Breast cancer is the cancer type that develops in the breast tissue of women mostly, as 99% of patients are female. At least one in every 8 women has a risk of developing this disease at some stage of their lives, making it by far the most common cancer type seen in women.
It can originate from different parts of the breast and generally named by the tissue in which it developed. Thus, the most common type is the “ductal” cancer originating from the breast ducts, while another common type is called “Lobular” breast cancer. There are also rarer types originating from other tissues known as medullary, tubular and mucinous cancers.
The most important known risk factors for developing breast cancer are
- Being obese or overweight
- Not having enough physical activity
- Alcohol and smoking
- Women who have never given birth or had their first birth after age 30
- Women who have their first menstrual period at an early age (because this means longer exposure to the estrogen hormone)
- Women that enter menopause at higher ages like 55 or more (once again the factor here is prolonged exposure to estrogen hormone)
- Some genetic mutations such as BRCA-1, BRCA-2
- Past radiotherapy treatments on chest
- Some benign breast diseases (such as fibroadenoma, intraduct papilloma, and etc.)
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a painless lump in the breast that grows over time. However, in very few patients, pain may accompany the symptoms. Less commonly, there are also symptoms including breast shrinkage, thickening of the skin, swelling, irritation or deterioration of the skin and a tender or inverted nipple.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Early breast cancers, like almost all other types of cancer, may not show any obvious symptoms until they reach advanced stages, however early diagnosis is crucial for efficient cancer treatment and survival.
If you’re a woman in ages from 20 to 40, be wise enough to self-check your breasts at home every month. If you feel an unfamiliar lump inside your breasts, consult a doctor immediately. If you are 40 or more, get a mammogram screening every two years besides monthly self-checks. If your physician suspects of a cancerous development, you will probably be asked a biopsy for defining the cause of the tumor and the type of the cancer if any.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
The treatment of each patient varies and multiple factors such as the location and stage of the disease, the age of the patient and other health problems are influential in the treatment decision. These treatments, which require multidisciplinary work, may include different options such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
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