Every human being is aware of his body and it’s perfect state of health in harmony and any change which disturbs this harmony can be the onset of a disease in our body. That is why it is always advised to go for regular check ups and also keep observing your body from time to time. For example symptoms of breast cancer are observed with the course of time when you start feeling a change in appearance, or any lump or mass which may be painful or painless. Sometimes in symptoms of breast cancer a lump may not be present but pain and swelling of breasts is present. Other common symptoms of breast cancer includes nipple retraction, discharge from nipples, dry flaky nipples, skin dimpling and thickening of breasts skin, swollen lymph nodes in armpits (breasts lymphatic drainage happens in the lymph nodes present in under arms).
In Fact the most basic definition of health is “all organs and systems are working in complete harmony in our body. So, that a person doesn’t know that a particular organ or system exists separately”. So, if you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms of breast cancer then you need to visit a physician soon.
What Is Breast Cancer?
What is breast cancer? Like any other cancer, breast cancer is the proliferation of breast cells in an uncontrolled manner. This may present as a mass or lump in the breast known as breast tumor. It has the capacity to infiltrate and invade nearby tissues. It can also travel to different parts of the body which is known as the Metastasis of cancer.
Types of Breast Cancer :
★ Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer – most common form of breast cancer. 80% cases belong to invasive ductal breast cancer in which cancer cells break the wall of milk ducts and invade the surrounding breast tissue.
★ Ductal Carcinoma in situ – in situ means that cancer cells are not spread. So, in ductal carcinoma cancer cells are present in ducts and have not infiltrated nearby tissue of breast. This is referred to as Stage 0 also.
★ Invasive Lobular Carcinoma – in this type of cancer lobules of breasts are involved where milk production happens. It occurs in 10-15% cases of breast cancer.
★ Lobular Carcinoma in situ –in this also the cancer cells are confined to lobules and have not invaded nearby breast tissue and area.
★ Triple Negative Breast Cancer TNBC – it is a rare kind of breast cancer and difficult to treat. It is an invasive kind of cancer. It is called triple negative. It doesn’t have three markers associated with other types of breast cancer crucial for prognosis and treatment.
★ Inflammatory Breast Cancer – it is a rare kind of breast cancer caused by obstructive cancer cells in breasts skin’s lymph vessels.
★ Paget’s Disease Of The Breast – in this type of breast cancer the nipple and areola are involved.
Stages Of Breast Cancer:
- Stage 0: cancer is non invasive at this stage and has not broken out of ducts yet.
- Stage 1: cancer cells start spreading in nearby breast tissue.
- Stage 2: tumor is either 2 cm long and has spread to lymph nodes in armpit or tumor is 5 cm long but has not spread to armpit lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: in this cancer has spread beyond the point of origin but not into the other organs. It is confined to the breast and lymphatic drainage of breasts.
- Stage 4: this is the metastasis stage of breast cancer when it spreads to distant organs like bones, liver, lungs, brain, etc.
Causes Of Breast Cancer
The main causes of breast cancer are as follows :
- Age — as we grow old the chance of breast cancer increases. The incidence of breast cancer is more after the age of 55.
- Sex – as stated before in breast cancer sex is a very crucial factor. It is predominantly a female disease as compared to men.
- Genetics And Family History – If any member in your family, your mother, sister, cousins, parents, relatives, etc have been diagnosed with breast cancer or any other cancer also then your chances of getting the disease is increased as compared to people who don’t have any history of cancer.
- Substance Abuse – it is associated with the lifestyle of a person as substance abuse can be modified too. The most common ones in case of breast cancer includes Smoking and Alcohol drinking. Both these substances put you at high risk of developing breast cancer.
- Obesity – obesity is a multi dimensional disorder due to which chances of breast cancer and its recurrence also increases.
- Exposure To Radiation – well this is an occupational hazard. If your body is exposed to harmful radiations then chances of developing breast cancer increases due to increased chance of mutation.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – is a form of hormone therapy which is used to treat the symptoms associated with menopause in females. Such females are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer signs and symptoms vary from person to person. In many cases there are hardly any symptoms or in some cases multiple symptoms are seen. One of the best way to detect breast cancer in early stage is knowing about these signs and symptoms, which are as follows –
❖ Any kind of change in shape, size or contour (outline) of your breasts.
❖ If you feel any lump or mass in your breasts, small or big.
❖ Redness or swelling of breasts.
❖ During menstruation any kind of pain , heaviness or swelling in breasts or nipples are early signs of breast cancer.
❖ Any change in the appearance of your nipples including shape, color, dry,cracked, thickening of nipple skin etc.
❖ Any discharge from nipples may be blood or mucus or both is also a definite sign of breast cancer.
How To Avoid Breast Cancer?
There are specific and scientific ways to avoid cancer if you do not have any genetic disposition for breast cancer or any other cancer in your family. This includes :
- Early diagnosis and Detection – As we talked about the early signs of breast cancer. So, if you experience any then you should visit your physician so that he/she can help you in a better way. For early detection and diagm=nosis these three things are important
● Routine mammography every year, once you cross 40, is recommended by the American Breast Cancer Society for women
● Make a habit to examine your breasts every month after the age of 18 years. So that women are aware of their breasts and can understand and catch any slight change in them. This helps in early detection of breast cancer.
● Regular checkup of breasts after every three years once you are 20 years old and every year if you are 40 years old. Clinical examination helps in finding lumps which are not seen in mammograms.
- Lifestyle Changes –Lifestyle has an immense effect on our body and we have seen impeccable results too when we modify our lifestyle with a balanced diet and harmonious environment around us. Most common lifestyle factors that put you at high risk of breast cancer include smoking, drinking, obesity, anxiety and stress.
Breast cancer is a deadly disease which mainly affects females with male occurrence under 1% worldwide. It is the most common form of cancer after skin cancer in terms of numbers. Although with medical technology advancement and treatment survival rate is much better than before. For prevention we need early diagnosis which is mainly done via mammograms and regular clinical check up. October is celebrated as Breast cancer awareness month all over the world and denoted by pink ribbon. So, be aware of your health as health is the key to a happy life.