Breast cancer can be understood as uncontrolled growth of breasts cells. This terminology refers to a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Breast cancer usually begins in the cells of the milk-producing glands (lobules), the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple (ducts). In other cases, it can begin in the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast called stromal tissues.
Causes of Breast Cancer
We cannot claim the causes of breast cancer. It is mostly non-hereditary and majorly occurs after menopause. Women who had breast cancer in the past may develop it again. Women who carry genes BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53 are high risk types; also women with more dense breast tissue. Women who started having menstruation period earlier or those who entered menopause later that usual age have longer estrogen exposure and they are high risk groups. Post-menopausal obesity can also lead to breast cancer. Even women who are taller than average women are likely to develop breast cancer in comparison to shorter and average women. Women who do not bear children or become pregnant after the age of 35 are also the risk groups.
If you consume alcoholic drinks regularly, you might be another victim of breast cancer. Exposure to radiation, women who undergo hormone replacement therapy, women who work at night pre-first pregnancy and jobs like bar/gambling, automotive automotive plastics manufacturing, metal-working, food canning and agriculture in which the body needs to be in contact with possible carcinogens and endocrine disruptors lead to breast cancer. A latest study has found that a woman with a cosmetic breast implant has a 25% higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer when the disease has already advanced, compared to those with no implants and they have a 38% higher risk of death from the disease.
Types of Breast Cancer Invasive Breast cancer
When breast cancer is invasive, it starts in the breast ducts or glands but grows into breast tissue. It can then spread into the nearby lymph nodes and beyond. Treatment depends on the type and how much and where it has spread. Invasive breast cancer can be two types:
Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Cancer cells start in a milk duct, break through the walls, and invade breast tissue. It can remain localized, which means it stays near the site where the tumor started. Or cancer cells may spread anywhere in the body.
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Starts in the lobules or milk glands and then spreads. With ILC, most women feel a thickening instead of a lump in their breast.
Some women may have a combination of both.
Symptoms of invasive breast cancer
There will be no sign in the early stage; you may notice one or more of the following as it grows- a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that continues after your monthly menstrual cycle; a mass or lump that feel as small as a pea; change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast; nipple discharge (blood stained or clear fluid); dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed breast; redness of the skin on the breast or nipple; change in shape or position of the nipple; there can be an area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast; marble-like hardened area under the skin.
Breast cancer in young women
Younger women have denser breast tissues, so it is not easy to notice/feel a lump. So chances are that cancer may be advanced by the time it is diagnosed in her. Another problem is, breast cancer is generally aggressive in younger women and so may not respond to treatment. These women have more chances to have a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
Be careful of any lump or unusual nipple discharge, it may not be simply a cyst. You should also consult another doctor if your doctor says it is merely a cyst, cross-checking is always better. If you have a personal history of breast cancer or some noncancerous breast diseases; A family history of breast cancer, particularly in a mother, daughter, or sister; history of radiation treatments to the chest before age 40; have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation; had your first menstruation before the age of 12; gave birth to your first child after the age of 35 – consider yourself as risk group and be conscious to any mis-happenings.
Heavy alcohol use, high intake of red meat, dense breasts, obesity, and race are other risk factors. Hormone replacement therapy with estrogens and progestins has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer development.
Breast cancer during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time to celebrate as well as to pay extra precautions. During pregnancy, breasts thicken and we can hardly spot any lumps or masses – if one acquires breast cancer during pregnancy, there are low chances to identify on time and by the time they are identified, the tumors are often larger and advanced. Suggestions – if you are a mom-to-be, please have breast exams throughout your pregnancy.
Breast cancer in Men
An adult man has breasts similar to a girl before puberty. There are chances this breast tissue in men acquire cancer. Men get the same types of breast cancers that women do, but cancers involving the parts that make and store milk are rare.
Which men are more likely to get breast cancer?
Generally men under 35 do not acquire breast cancer. Most breast cancers happen to men between ages 60 and 70. Other risk factors of male breast cancer include those with close female relative who has breast cancer history, exposure of chest to radiation, breast enlargement due to drug or hormone treatments, this can also be due to some infections and poisons, those who take estrogen, genetic condition (rarely), severe liver disease, diseases of the testicles such as mumpsorchitis, a testicular injury, or an undescended testicle.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer in men?
Breast cancer shows similar symptoms in both men and women, a lump in the breast tissue is most common symptom. Don’t wait for further symptoms and consult a doctor. If you wait till there are severe symptoms like bleeding from the nipple, cancer may have already spread by then.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Inflammatory breast cancer is rare and aggressive. It often appears as an irritated area of skin. It blocks the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. Inflammatory breast cancer may not be seen in a mammogram or ultrasound, and is often misdiagnosed as an infection. By the time it’s diagnosed, it usually has grown into the skin of the breast. Often, it has already spread to other parts of the body, too.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer generally doesn’t show up as a lump. The disease grows as nests or sheets under the skin. Symptoms may include breast pain, change of skin in breast area –pink or reddened areas may often appear with the texture and thickness of an orange, a bruise on the breast that doesn't go away, breast may swell suddenly, there might be itching in the breast, changes in or discharge from nipple, under arm lymph nodes or those in the neck may swell. Note that these changes often happen quickly, over a period of weeks.
There are steps every person can take to help the body stay as healthy as possible, such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and exercising regularly.