Breast cancer is a disease that affects predominately women, whereas it tends to be the second-frequent cancer that occurs in women, just behind the skin cancer. However, breast cancer may happen to men, too. Though, the ratio of men suffering from this illness (as compared to women) is just 1%. The chances are that, on average, 1 in 8 women will suffer from breast cancer anytime in life. Most of the women (two thirds) developing this illness are, however, 55 or older.
So, breast cancer is caused by abnormal cells that have disorderly grown in the body. These cells also tend to “travel” to other places in body – those places they are not supposed to travel to. When that happens, doctors call it “metastasis,” and this causes the cancer to spread to other parts of the body. If detected early, breast cancer is successfully treated in 99% cases – that is before metastasizing to other organs.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
The most common symptoms of this cancer include:
- Lump in your underarm or breast. Usually, a lump in the breast or underarm that doesn’t disappear tends to be the first symptom of cancer. Most of such lumps are painless, though some of them may cause a prickly feeling. These formations can be seen on a mammogram long before you will notice them on your body.
- Swelling in the breast, armpit, or collarbone. The swelling of the collarbone or armpits means that the cancer is spreading to your lymphnodes. If your breast becomes swollen, it might be a symptom of an aggressive breast cancer type.
- Flat/indented area in the chest.
- Pain/tenderness in your breast.
- Changes in nipples. Your nipples might become dimpled, pulled inward, be itching or burning, or develop sores.
- Changes in breasts. Patients often experience a difference in the temperature, texture, contour or size of breasts. A pitted surface of red color might signify an advanced form of breast cancer.
- An area that somewhat reminds marble under your skin.
- Nipple discharge. Oftentimes this symptom happens due to benign disorders or conditions. But it also may point to a possibility of developing breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Types
Actually, the case with such a disease like cancer is that there may be many different types of cancer – that is exactly the case with breast cancer. Here, we will list just some of the most common types of breast cancer.
- Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer. Around 80% and 65% of breast cancer cases are ER-positive and PR-positive accordingly, which means they are more likely to respond to the hormone therapy.
- HER2–Positive Breast Cancer. In around 20% of cases, cancer tends to produce a protein that is known as HER2, and this type of cancer is very fast-growing and aggressive.
- Triple–Negative Breast Cancer. Some types of breast cancer don’t have progesterone or estrogen receptors, nor they produce the HER2 protein. Such a cancer is often treated with surgery, chemo and radiation.
- Invasive Breast Cancer. Such type of cancer originates in the glands or ducts, but then invades in the tissue of the breast, lymphnodes, and even beyond. 90% of all invasive cancer types are caused by two tumors: invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) and invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC).
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer. This is a very rare and aggressive form of cancer, which manifests itself as an irritated area of skin or rash. It might not even shot up on an ultrasound or mammogram, which makes doctors mistake it for an infection.
Even though the exact causes of breast cancer are not known, the common risk factors include:
- Being a woman: breast cancer is 100 times more likely to affect a woman than a man
- Age: the older you get, the higher chances of breast cancer are
- History of breast cancer
- Direct family history: if your mother or grandmother had a breast cancer, this highly increases your chances of developing one
- Genes: between 5% and 10% cases of cancer of breasts are inherited
- Dense breasts
- Distant family history
- Breast lesions
- Previous abnormal breast biopsy
- Radiation treatment
- Reproductive history: if your first menstruation happened before the age of 12, menopause happened after 55, or you never have been pregnant (or all of these), you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer
- Other cancer types of family members
- Alcohol consumption
- Not exercising
- Hormone replacement therapy.
Usually, breast cancer is treated with a combination of methods that include:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy.