Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women. It is the second most common type of cancer, after lung cancer, causing death in women.
Men are also affected by breast cancer but with much less occurrence than in women. The danger of breast cancer in men is in the poor prognosis (outcome) since they are hardly diagnosed early enough.
How Do Breast Cancers Form?
Breast cancers occur when some breast cells start growing abnormally, dividing more quickly than normal cells do. The cancers are found mostly in the inner lining of milk ducts. They could also originate from the lobules supplying milk to the milk ducts in the breast.
Causes Of Breast Cancer
The exact cause of breast cancer remains unknown to doctors but has been linked to various risk factors that could increase one’s chances of developing breast cancer. These factors include:
- Gender: Being a woman is a major risk factor in breast cancer. Although it affects men too but women are 100 times more likely to be affected than men.
2. Positive History of Breast Cancer: For a woman who has suffered any type of breast cancer in the past, the risk of developing a new cancer is 4times higher than normal.
3. Family History: If a blood-line relative of a woman (mother, daughter, sister) has/had breast cancer, she is also at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
4. Genetics There are some genetic factors of breast cancer that can be inherited. They are called the BRCA1, BRCA2, and HERS, and they account for about 10% to 15% of cases of breast cancers.
5. Age: As a woman grows in age, her risk of developing breast cancer also increases.
6. Reproduction History: Starting mensuration earlier than 12 years, never being pregnant, not breastfeeding, and late menopause after age 55 will raise your risk of breast cancer due to a pronged exposure to the hormone, estrogen.
7. Alcohol Consumption and Lack of Exercise also pose a higher risk for breast cancer than normal.
Types Of Breast Cancer
Based on the site affected, breast cancer is classified into;
- Non-invasive breast cancer and
- Invasive breast cancer
- Metastatic Breast Cancer
Non-Invasive Breast Cancer
Just as the name implies, this type of breast cancer does not affect the surrounding tissues of the breast. It is only confined to the affected ducts from which it originates. They are sometimes referred to as “pre-cancers”.
Invasive Breast Cancer
Here, the cancer cells are capable of leaving the breast ducts and lobular walls to the surrounding tissues of the affected breast. Most breast cancers are invasive but may not be metastatic.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
This is an advanced breast cancer stage where cancers originating from the breast spread to other organs in the body. Organs that are usually affected include the lungs, bones, liver, and brain. It is also classified as stage 4 breast cancer.
Pharmabiro elaborated on the classifications, diagnosis, and treatment options here.
Signs of Breast Cancer
The signs to watch out for include:
- Lump or mass in the breast
- Swelling in the armpit
- Bloody or clear nipple discharge
- Inverted nipple (when the nipple sucks into the breast)
- Scally skin on the breast or nipple.
- Dimpled or pitted skin on the breast or nipple
- Unusuall breast pain.
Click here to learn the best ways you can care for your breasts. If you have any concerns about any of these signs, speak to your doctors. A mammogram or palpitation can detect any unusual breast appearance for further investigations. Remember, the earlier the better.
Ways To Prevent Prevent Breast Cancer
While some breast cancer factors like being a woman, growing in age, and genetic predisposition cannot be changed, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Be pysically active
- Limit or stop alcohol intake
- Breastfeed your babies for as long as pssible
- Practice Breast Self Examination (BSE)
- Avoid hormonal drugs and contraceptives as much as you can.
- Start breast cancer screening
- Try to stay healthy all through your life. This will not only reduce your risk of developing breast cancer but also increase your chances of survival if it occurs.