Breast Cancer Facts – Learn the Real Truth About This Disease
Breast cancer is among the three most common types of cancers. It is the most common kind of cancer in women, even though it can develop in men as well. Another important fact to take into account is that this is the second most lethal type of cancer in women, after lung cancer. Given all these facts, it is worth learning more about this condition, its characteristics, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
The breast consists of milk producing glands. They are connected to the opening of the skin in the nipple by ducts. This gland and duct structure is connected by tissue consisting of fat and fibrous tissue. There are also blood vessels, lymph nodes and nerves in this part of the human body, just like in any other part.
Most commonly breast cancer occurs in the milk ducts and in the milk glands. It is characterized by changes in the cells that make them abnormal. These abnormal cells grow rapidly and uncontrollably to form carcinomas. The tumors in the ducts are called ductal carcinomas, while the ones in the glands are called lobular carcinomas.
There are different stages of the development of the cancer in the breast. It starts as a small lump, a confined tumor, or with calcium deposits. If these remain unnoticed, the cancer starts to spread to the rest of the breast. When the tumor reaches the lymph nodes, its abnormal cells can travel to other tissues and organs through the blood stream. In turn, patients with advanced breast cancer have can have abnormal growths in the lungs, liver or bones.
The exact causes of breast cancer are unknown. However, researchers have identified the main risk factors that increase a woman’s chances of getting the condition. Women who have had benign tumors in the breast are more likely to develop the condition. Those who have first-degree relatives with the condition are at two to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. The presence of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 also increases the risk. Recent research shows that women exposed to higher level of estrogen are at greater risk as well. Smoking, alcohol consumption, weight gain and obesity and lack of exercise are also considered risk factors, even though they are less significant.
Most breast cancer symptoms are not present in the early stages of the development of the tumor. The first warning sign is usually a lump that can be felt in the breast or in the underarm area. The lump is not painful, but it is persistent even after menstruation. At later stages, the lump can become painful. Swelling in the armpit is another common symptom. In general, any flattening or denting of the breast is a warning sign. This is also applicable to changes in the texture and skin as well as the temperature of the breast. Any notable changes in the nipple and discharge from the nipple are also common symptoms of this condition.
Breast cancer is diagnosed with mammography. This is a special x-ray designed to identify any changes in the breast tissue and abnormal growths, in particular. Before such a test is done, the physician examines the breast to determine whether mammography is necessary or not.
The first type of breast cancer treatment is surgery. It can be either mastectomy or lumpectomy. The surgeon removes the tumor and any surrounding tissue and lymph nodes that may be affected. The surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, so that any abnormal cells remaining in the body can be eliminated. Hormonal therapy and biological therapy are also part of traditional breast cancer treatment.
Breast cancer treatment has a high success rate. Every 9 of 10 women, who have undergone treatment for breast cancer, survive at least five years after this. This is considered curing. In addition, 5 of every 10 female patients go on to love for 10 years or longer. Despite this, it is not uncommon for this condition to reoccur.
The best method for breast cancer prevention is regular screening. Women are advised to have regular clinical breast exams after the age of 20 and regular mammograms after the age of 40. Frequent self-examination is equally important. In general, the balanced diet, the reduced consumption of alcohol, nonsmoking and exercising regularly can reduce your risk of getting the condition.