Breast cancer is characterized by the development of a malignant tumor in the breast. This tumor is formed by cells that grow uncontrollably, leading to the formation of a mass. Cancerous cells can also spread to other areas of the body through a process called metastasis. This can result in the growth of tumors in other tissues and organs, leading to serious health consequences. Early detection and treatment of breast cancer can improve the chances of a successful outcome.
Breast cancer can occur in lobules, ducts, or connective tissue. These are the three types of breast tissue in which cancer may develop.
The majority of breast cancer originates in the lobules or ducts. These are the milk-producing glands and the pathways through which milk travels. However, cancerous growths can also appear in the fibrous and fatty connective tissue that surrounds the ducts and lobules.
Breast cancer has various types, and treatment is determined by the cancer type and stage of development, indicating how much it has spread.
If breast cancer invades normal tissue, it is known as invasive breast cancer, whereas noninvasive breast cancer remains confined to the breast duct or lobule.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
• Should any of these indications arise, seek guidance from your healthcare professional.
• The discovery of any mass located in or around the breast or underarm.
• The occurrence of unusual warmth or sensitivity in the breast without a clear explanation.
• The presence of a hardened, thickened, or swollen region within the breast.
• Tenderness of the nipple with no discernible cause.
• Secretion from the nipple, excluding breast milk, notably clear or bloody discharge.
• Alteration without explanation in color, texture, size, or shape of the breasts or nipples.
• Indurations of the breast skin or an increase in pore size, resembling the surface of an orange.
• Inflammation, erythema, flakiness, or generalized discomfort in the breast or nipples.
• Nipples that invert spontaneously without a discernible cause.
• Breasts that are agitated or pruritic.
• dermatitis on the breast, which may indicate inflammatory breast cancer.
Although a mass may indicate cancer, almost 80% of breast lumps discovered are benign.
Causes and Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
Aside from being female, the most significant risk factors for this ailment are:
• Risk increases after the age of 50.
• A family history
• Prior exposure to radiation.
The risk level is determined by a combination of factors unique to each woman. If worried, consulting with a physician can aid in evaluating risk magnitude and ascertaining whether additional measures should be taken for screening.
Testing for Breast Cancer Genetics: BRCA1 and BRCA2
If there’s a history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family, your doctor may recommend genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which are responsible for a significant percentage of these cancers. These inherited mutations account for around 5-10% of breast cancers and 10-15% of ovarian cancers. However, there are other genes that can also increase breast cancer risk, although they’re much less common than the BRCA mutations. Genetic testing is an option for women who want to know their risk of developing breast cancer. If a woman tests positive for a genetic mutation, she may be advised to take steps to reduce her risk, such as more frequent screening, prophylactic surgery or medication.