What is Breast Cancer?
Cancer is disease of uncontrollable growth of cells. It can be evidenced in any part of the body and if left it undiagnosed and untreated on time, then it multiplies much faster and spreads in other parts of the body soon. The later stage of this disease takes the form of a complete cancer.
Breast Cancer: Breast cancer is the origination of uncontrollable growth of a tumour in the milk producing glands in the breast or in the ducts that passes milk to the nipples.
A malignant tumour is basically a group of cancer cells, which grow and then affect the surrounding tissues or spread into other parts of the body. This is typical disease that largely seen in women, but men can also suffer of it (rarely).
Types of Breast Cancer:
Following are the important types of breast cancer:
Primary Breast Cancer:
- Non-invasive breast cancer: It is Ductal Carcinoma (in situ), abnormal cells originate within the ducts of breast itself.
- Invasive breast cancer: When cancer grows, it spread in nearby areas from the origination point i.e. duct. Uncontrollable cancer cells keep spreading and reach up to armpit, lymph, etc. More common type of invasive cancers is invasive lobular carcinoma cancer.
Secondary Breast Cancer:
- Metastatic Breast Cancer: It originates in a breast, but spreads into bones, liver, or lung. This is advanced breast cancer.
Uncommon Type of Breast Cancer:
Inflammatory Breast Cancer: This is rare (only 1 to 3 % of all breast cancer) breast cancer. This type of breast cancer makes breast skin red and patient feels warm. The breast gradually becomes larger, firmer, or tender and gives itching problem.
Stages of Breast Cancer:
The following table illustrates the various stages of a breast cancer:
Causes and Risk Factors of Breast Cancer:
Following are the important causes and risk factors of breast cancer:
- Age: Normally breast cancer occurs in a woman who is over 50 (years of age).
- Family History: If a woman had breast cancer in the past, there is high risk that the next generation woman can be victim of breast cancer.
- Clinical History: If a woman can become victim of breast cancer once, there is risk, she can again develop breast cancer.
- Lifestyle Factors: Irregular food habit, unbalanced diet, overweight, physical inactivity, high alcohol consumption, etc. are risky for a woman.
- Late Pregnancy: Woman becoming pregnant after the age of 35 has greater risk of breast cancer.
- Prolonged Hormonal Exposure: A long menstrual life cycle puts on risk of breast cancer.
- Hormonal Replacement Therapy: Such kind of therapy also put on high risk of breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer:
Initially, there is no symptom, but as cancer increases number of symptoms start appearing:
- A lump, lumpiness, i.e. thickening or increase in size of breast.
- Changes in the nipple, for example shape, colour (redness), unusual discharge, etc.
- A variation in size of the breast.
- Change to the shape of the breast.
- Hardening of the breast.
- Swelling or/and uneasiness in the armpit.
- Changes in the breast skin colour, for example redness or other colour.
- Regular pain, which is not related to the normal monthly menstrual cycle, and this pain, patient, feels only in one breast.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer:
Following are the important methods of breast cancer diagnosis:
- Physical Check-up: Primarily, doctor observes through physical examination and also take family’s medical history.
- Mammogram: This is a sort of low-dose X-ray that examines breast cancer tissue.
- Ultrasound: Doctor uses sound waves to take the picture of the affected part of the body.
- MRI: Doctor uses a large magnet in a scanner to take image of breast cancer.
- Biopsy: Doctor removes small amount of tissue from the affected area of the breast for the check-up.
Treatment of Breast Cancer:
Depending upon the size, stage, and affected area, doctors decide the type of treatment. Following are the common types of breast cancer treatment:
- Surgery: It is removal of the affected part of the breast; however, if cancer is at later stage and big in size then doctor prefers to remove the whole breast, which is known as “Mastectomy”.
- Radiotherapy: Doctors use high energy X-ray to kill cancer cells and stop its growth.
- Chemotherapy: Doctors use drugs to kill the cancer cell or slow down its growth.
Prevention for Breast Cancer:
As such there is no specific prevention that can ensure you 100 % that you would not have breast cancer. However, the following points will definitely down the risk factors of a breast cancer:
- Maintain your Body Weight: Over weight is one of the risk factors so better to maintain your balanced body weight.
- Eat Healthy: Healthy eating keeps many of the disease away.
- Physical Exercise: Don’t be inactive, practice regular physical exercise including yoga and other normal physical exercise.
- Avoid Smoking: Try not to smoke.
- Avoid Alcohol: Try to avoid alcohol.
- Breast Feeding: If you have baby, breast feeding is the most essential at least up to one year.
- Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy: Hormone replacement therapy may put you on high risk of breast cancer so avoid it.
- Regular Check-up: Whether you are at risk or not, regular check-up is always suggestible to keep yourself fit and fine.
Breast Cancer and Sexuality:
Breast cancer affects patient’s sexual life badly, as sexual intercourse is not possible. You as a patient is going under treatment, in such a stage it is not feasible to have sex.
However, at certain stage, if patient want to have sex, she recommended to use barrier type of contraception (condoms) while having sex. So that it can protect from the pregnancy.
Moreover, it is more advisable to consult the doctor and discuss in details and follow his/her suggestions.