Symptoms of breast cancer in women is the most evident of cancers affecting women, and the major cause of death in female cancer patient after the lung cancer.
In the United States of America today there is about 3.1-3.2 million breast cancers survivor, although the death rate of a patient with breast cancer has decreased to 1 in 37, or 2.7 percent.
Early this year 2017 around 252,710 women were diagnosed with cancer of the breast
Sad isn’t it, the bad news in this is that the percentage of women to die from this disease is about 40,610.
Well in today’s article I will be covering breast cancer under the following headings
- What is breast cancer?
- Symptoms of breast cancer in women
- 10 risk factors for breast cancer in women
- Diagnosis of breast cancer in women
- Treatment of breast cancer in women
- Prevention of breast cancer in women
Startling facts about breast cancer:
Below are some facts that will blow your mind about breast cancer, all this are the just key point, the article will cover all these in details.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women.
- Breast cancer affects men but in low ratio compared to women.
- It presents lumps, thickening of the breast and change in color of the nipple and skin.
- The disease could genetic, certain lifestyle could influence breast cancer such as alcohol, smoke and much more.
- Treatment of breast cancer includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
- Lumps in the breast may not present cancer but individuals with such signs should see their doctors for proper confirmation.
What is breast cancer?
Cancer is defined by the dictionary as a disease state where the cell of the body undergoes rapid and uncontrollable proliferation.
During maturation after puberty, a woman’s breast consists of
- Tiny tubes
- Connective tissue
- Thousands of Lobules
- Tiny glands that produce milk
During cancer, the cells of the breast proliferate uncontrollably, which in turn causes cancer.
Cancer affects various sites of the breast as list stated below.
Ductal carcinoma: Here cancer affects the milk ducts and its the most common of breast cancer.
Lobular carcinoma: Here cancer affects the lobules.
Types of breast cancers
Invasive breast cancers: Here cancer breaks through the ducts and lobules increasing the chance and risk of spreading and affecting surrounding parts of the body.
Non-invasive breast cancer: Thes is the stage where the cancer is still where it originated and has broken out into surrounding parts or organ. Non-invasive cancer can develop into the invasive breast.
Symptoms of breast cancer in women.
Common symptoms of breast cancers include lumps and thickening of the breast, Other symptoms include
- Pains in the breast and armpit.
- Pitting and redness of the skin and the breast.
- Rash around the nipple.
- Discharge from the nipple containing blood.
- Inverted or sunken nipple.
- Increase in the breast size
- Flaking, peeling or scaling of the skin of the breast or nipple.
10 risk factors for breast cancer in women
The main cause of breast cancer still remains unclear, but some of the risk factors make it more likely and avoidable.
The risk of is higher in individuals who have a record of breast cancer in their family.
Women who carry the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a high risk of developing breast cancer in severe cases ovarian cancer.
The risk is higher in older female around the age of 70years though cases of breast cancer in female around the age of 20 has been recorded.
Dense breast tissue factor
The risk of breast cancer is higher in females with higher breast density.
Past record of breast lump or breast cancer
The risk is higher in women with who had previous cases of cancer or breast lumps, compared to women with no previous records of breast cancer or a breast lump.
Body weight factor
Women with cases of obesity or overweight after menopause are more at risk of breast cancer, these could be because of the higher level of estrogen.
Breastfeeding and Oestrogen exposure factor
Breastfeeding appears to reduce the reduces the risk of breast cancer in women.
Studies have shown that exposure to estrogen could increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
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Alcohol consumption factor
Women consuming more than 3 drinks in a day have been noticed to have the risk of having breast cancer.
Radiation exposure factor
Radiation treatment for other cancers that are not breast cancer in the body can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Hormone treatment factor
Women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and oral birth control pills have shown to have the chance of becoming a breast cancer patient.
These are because of increasing level of estrogen.
Occupational hazards factor
Studies have shown that women exposed to carcinogenic agent or endocrine disruptor show the risk of suffering breast cancer.
Diagnosis of breast cancer in women
Diagnosis usually occurs when they are a routine checkup or when a woman suspects breast cancer and approaches a doctor.
Imaging tests: In detecting lumps in the breast a device called mammogram is used, this device is a specific type of x-rays.
Breast exam: Here the physician checks the woman with suspected breast cancer for lumps in the breast.
Biopsy: Here the breast tissue is surgically removed for laboratory diagnosis, these method aids in defining the nature of the cells if it is cancerous or not and whether or not the cancer is hormone sensitive.
The diagnosis helps to establish the following;
- How far cancer has spread in the body
- The size of the cancer
- Whether the cancer cells are invasive or non-invasive
- Whether the cancer cells are metastasized.
Treatment of breast cancer in women
Treatment of breast cancer depends on the following factors.
- Stage of the cancer
- Type of breast cancer
- The patient’s age, overall health
- Sensitivity to hormone
The major options of breast cancer treatment
- Hormone therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy or biological therapy
Surgery: Surgery is needed depending on the diagnosis of the individual.
Axillary lymph node dissection: If the cells of the node are cancerous sentinel node, surgery may perform, removing several lymph nodes in the armpit thereby prevent the spread of the cells.
Mastectomy: These involve the removal of ducts, lobules, fatty tissues, nipple and some part of the skin.
Lumpectomy: Removing a small margin of healthy cells and the tumor mays reduce the risk of spreading to the cancerous cells.
Sentinel node biopsy: Stopping the spread of cancer through the removal of one lymph node which can further spread to other sites of the through the lymphatic system.
Drugs called cytotoxic drugs may be useful in the killing of cancerous cells if they are a high risk of the cancer cells spreading. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
In cases were the tumor cells are large, chemotherapy is administered to enable shrinking of the cancerous cells before surgery.
Chemotherapy is used in the treatment of metastasized or cancerous cells that have spread to another part of the body.
Radiation is targeted to tumor cells in order to destroy them. Radiation in combination with chemotherapy kills cancerous cells faster.
Patient undergoing radiation therapy needs about 3 – 5 sessions per week and the process should last for about 3 – 6 weeks.
Adverse effects of radiation therapy include fatigue, lymphedema, irritation, and darkening of the breast skin.
Hormone-blocking therapy is used in preventing recurrent hormone-sensitive breast cancer. They often called estrogen receptive (ER) positive and progesterone receptor (PR) positive cancers.
This method is usually used after surgery, but in some cases, it’s used before surgery in order to shrink the tumor cells.
This method does affect cancer cells that are not sensitive to the hormone.
Examples of hormone therapy drugs
- Ovarian ablation or suppression
- Aromatase inhibitors
- Luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist (LHRHa) i.e Goserelin that suppresses the ovaries.
Hormone therapy has been shown to affect the woman’s fertility.
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Targeted drug therapy or biological therapy
Targeted drugs destroy specific kinds of cancerous cells. Examples: trastuzumab (Herceptin), lapatinib (Tykerb), and bevacizumab (Avastin).
The method of treatment should be explained to the patient extensively by the doctor in order to help the patient make a better choice of treatment.
Prevention of breast cancer in women
Statistics have shown that there are no specified ways of preventing cancer but avoiding certain habit and lifestyle have shown to reduce the risk of coming down with breast cancer.
- Getting enough exercise
- Avoiding excess alcohol consumption
- Consuming healthy diets
- Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Bottomline: Breast cancer has shown to be very deadly but proper management and treatment could save its patients.
Women, in general, are advised to regularly check their breasts and armpit region for lumps and if detected should consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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