Breast Cancer is cancer of the breast lobules, breast ducts or other tissues that are found within the breast. If they grow malignantly, Breast Cancer Cells can spread to other parts of the body (such as the chest wall or skin, for example) via the lymphatic system or the blood stream. Some forms of Breast Cancer cells may take years to spread, while some may do so quickly. It is estimated that 1 out of 8 women is susceptible to developing Breast Cancer in their lifetime. Nearly 70% of women who get affected by Breast Cancer tend to be over 55 years of age, while for the remaining, the age bracket when Breast Cancer strikes is roughly between 35 and 55.
Cancer, in general, refers to an abnormal multiplication of ‘unhealthy’ or malignant cells (you can read up on cancer here). Breast cancer – largely an ailment affecting women, although males can also technically be impacted – refers to the proliferation of malignant cells either in the glands that produce milk (Lobules), the passageways that carry this milk from the source Lobules to the nipples (Ducts), or the fibrous connective tissues and fatty tissues that are found inside the breast area.
Breast Cancer can often start without any perceptible or overt symptoms. Sometimes, it begins as a small tumour which can’t be felt, but will show up on a mammogram (although this ‘Test’ usually doesn’t take place because of the first reason mentioned). When the tumour is large enough, it both produces a distinct sensation and is visible as a lump somewhere on the breast area. Some of the common early detection indicators or symptoms of Breast Cancer are: detection and diagnosis:
A lump somewhere on the breast that appears to have occurred suddenly and feels different from the surrounding areas. A lump or swelling may also appear under the arm. This is amongst the more common symptoms or early indicators of Breast Cancer.
A lump somewhere in the breast that appears to have occurred suddenly and feels different from the surrounding areas. A lump or swelling may also appear under the arm. This is amongst the more common early indicators or symptoms of Breast Cancer.
Pain of any nature in or around the breasts. This is another common symptom of Breast Cancer.
Another ‘universal’ symptom or early indicator of Breast Cancer is discharge from the nipples – this can contain blood, or be a ‘clear’ fluid.
There are many types of breast cancer. The type of breast cancer is determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected. Most breast cancers are carcinomas. Learn about the types of breast cancer in detail.
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS): Located in the cells (technically referred to as Lobules) that produce breast milk, this is not Breast Cancer in the strict technical sense, but more of an indication of its possible incidence later. The presence of one is a cue to have a breast examination, mammogram or other advised Tests done without ado.
Invasive or Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): This kind of Breast Cancer, after having begun in the milk ducts (Lobules), pierces the duct walls and ‘infects’ the surrounding fatty tissues. 80% of all recorded Breast Cancer cases belong to this type.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): This is the kind of Breast Cancer that is initiated in the Lobules (milk producing ducts in the breasts) but eventually spreads to other parts of the body. About 10% of all recorded Breast Cancer cases fall under this category. These can be rare, slow to grow, deceptively similar to other forms of cancer, affect women even after menopause, be found floating on the slippery mucin or mucus and take on many appearances – ie, tube shaped, resembling salivary glands or the medulla in the brain.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer: This is a rare kind of Breast Cancer that is triggered by inflammatory cells present in the lymph vessels of the skin.
Paget’s Disease of the Nipple: This refers to a genre of Breast Cancer that affects the dark circle immediately surrounding the nipple (technically called the ‘Areola’).
Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast: This is also a rare form of Breast Cancer that spreads fast (in a leaf-like pattern) around the breast.
Research is yet to be able to pinpoint the exact reasons or causes of Breast Cancer, but we are in a position to understand that certain factors can increase the risk of incidence of this affliction. Some of the common Risk Factors of Breast Cancer – categorized into those that are beyond our control and those which we can influence – are listed below:
Age: Statistics tell us that women who are above the age of 50 are at a greater risk of Breast Cancer than women who are younger.
Menstrual History: The probability of someone contacting Breast Cancer goes up if her periods had started before the age of 12, and won’t stop even at 55.
Personal History of the Breast or of Breast Cancer: Women with benign breast conditions or who have had cancers in the past are at a much higher risk than their counterparts.
Family History of Cancer: If a first-degree relative has had Breast Cancer in the past, one’s chances of Breast Cancer may increase by as much as two times. The number can go upto three times if two or more first-degree relatives have had Breast Cancer. If the condition happened on both breasts, or if it had taken place before menopause, the probability intensifies.
Radiation History: If someone has had Radiation treatment for any kind of cancer before the age of 40, the risk of Breast Cancer rises.
Gene History: Hereditary factors can also affect the chances of someone contacting Breast Cancer.
Diet: Food habits that push one steadily towards over weightness or obesity are potentially Breast Cancer inducers. A diet that is understood to be able to stave off the probability of Breast Cancer is one that’s high on fruits, vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, Kale, legumes and fiber), lean meat (such as fish and chicken), yogurt, onion, broccoli, tea and whole grains (unprocessed wheat, rye, oats, corn, bulgur, rice and barley). Go for organics whenever you can and limit intake of Saturated Fats & Trans-Fats (ie, fat found in butter, fried foods, cheese and commercially prepared food), sugar and alcohol.
Weight: Women who are overweight – particularly after menopause – are more vulnerable to Breast Cancer.
Reproduction History: Women who became mothers after the age of 30, didn’t go through a full-term pregnancy phase or didn’t breastfeed lie at a higher risk of Breast Cancer.
The chances of survival for a victim of Breast Cancer depends on certain factors such as gender, age and race. The biggest factor that can decisively sway the chances of survival is the time or stage of Detection – the earlier a Breast Cancer is detected, the better the likelihood of survival. Further, self breast examination and it’s merits are beyond comprehension in early detection of beast cancer.`
STAY SAFE, BE SURE: House of Diagnostics offers a suite of affordable and quick tests to aid Breast Cancer diagnosis and treatment. You can book a Consultation and Test for yourself – or someone else who needs help – in just a few clicks.
Mammography: Mammography is performed to screen healthy women for signs of breast cancer. It is also used to evaluate a woman who has symptoms of breast disease, such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast, or retraction of the nipple.
MRI Breast: MRI uses radio waves and strong magnets to make detailed pictures of the inside of the breast and capture multiple images of the breast tissue. A screening MRI may be recommended by you doctor along with a yearly mammogram.
FNAC (Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology): FNAC, when a lump, or a bump is discovered in superficial areas of the body such as the breast. FNAC test is being performed as a pre-operative test to evaluate breast lump.
Diagnostics Tests And Path Lab facilities Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).