The Definition of Breast Cancer: Everything You Should Know About It
Breast cancer oncology has now become one of the most common diseases of the century. A sharp increase in morbidity was observed in the late 70’s in women of post-menopausal age. Today the age of the disease has changed; breast cancer can develop from very young ages now. Women as young as 25 years years old can suffer from this pathology.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Cancer cells are mutant cells that are not characteristic of normal body tissues. Cancer occurs as a result of mutations – atypical changes in the genes responsible for regulating cell growth and keeping them healthy. A malignant tumor that has developed from breast cells is called breast cancer.
But how does breast cancer start? Malignant cells reproduce uncontrollably so that over time they can go beyond the original tumor and spread to the surrounding healthy tissue, lymph nodes, and remote organs. The next question is, where does breast cancer start? Most often, the disease begins in the cells of the lobes or in the ducts.
Causes and Risk Factors
By definition, breast cancer occurs by accident. Only 10% of cases of the disease are hereditary due to mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. When talking about breast cancer risk factors, it is important to bear in mind that it is only a question of the likelihood that specific types of cancer will occur and not that it will necessarily be diagnosed if one or more signs are present. Risk factors are divided into two groups – those that cannot be influenced and those that can be reduced.
Risk Factors That Cannot be Affected
- The female sex: Among men, the disease develops rarely
- Age: 90% of diseases are diagnosed at the age of over 40 years
- Genetic predisposition, mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
- Breast cancer or irradiation of the chest area in the anamnesis
- Benign, precancerous mammary gland diseases
- Early start of menstruation (before 12 years), late menopause (after 55 years)
Risk Factors That Can be Affected
- Absence of pregnancy, induced termination of pregnancy, refusal of breastfeeding
- Steroid hormones, prolonged use of hormonal contraceptives
- Alcohol abuse, smoking
- Insufficient physical activity
Forms of Cancers
The prediction of the course of the disease and treatment depends on the molecular genetic characteristics of the tumor. For better classification, there are several descriptions of breast cancer’s types:
- Ductal – the tumor grows inside the mammary gland ducts. This type is highly treatable and can be detected in the early stages.
- Lobular – also called invasive lobular carcinoma – the tumor grows in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast. The second-most-common type, also treatable.
- Tripple Negative – this type of cancer is more common in women with BRCA1 gene mutations and in young women. The best treatment for this type is chemotherapy.
- Inflammatory – an aggressive and rapidly growing cancer in which mutant cells penetrate the skin and lymphatic vessels of the breast. Oncologists recommend both local and systemic treatment, including chemo.
How to Diagnose Breast Cancer
For regular preventive maintenance, a self-examination will be sufficient. However, if you have any suspicions or abnormal lumps in your chest or armpits, be sure to see a doctor for a professional checkup in a hospital.
If you are used to postponing doctor’s appointments time and time again, you should start by self-examining.
Changes in the skin of the mammary gland (local wrinkles, dryness, redness, traction, changes in the contour of the gland, and subcutaneous vascular pattern, the presence of previously missing lumps) may be a signal of a problem.
The appearance of formation in the armpit area, pain in this area, nipple pulling, swelling of the gland tissue may also be a signal of effects of breast cancer. If any of these symptoms are detected, you should see a doctor immediately.
If a relative, especially a female relative, has had cancer, the doctor should know about it. Examination and palpation of the breast is carried out in the vertical and horizontal position of the patient, and it is necessary to examine not only the breast but all breast cancer areas.
After a manual examination, the doctor can refer you to mammography, ultrasound, MRI, or PET CT. If none of these studies show results and the suspicions remain, the doctor will refer you to a biopsy. Contrary to popular belief, a modern biopsy is almost painless and yet very effective.
Most Importantly – Do Not Panic
If you or one of your loved ones was diagnosed with breast cancer, there is no need to panic. Now that you know a little about breast cancers, you can tell that most of the types are very treatable. Some of them don’t even require dangerous treatment, such as chemo or radiation therapy.
If you need professional help in taking care of a patient with breast cancer, contact All American Hospice specialists. We will make sure that the patient is comfortable, doesn’t feel any pain, and has everything she or he needs.