In simple terms, Breast Cancer is a disease in which the breast cells grow uncontrollably. In medical terms, it happens when malignant (cancerous) cells grow in the breast. Further, when these breast cancer cells fully grow, they metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. Metastasis originates in the lymphatic system which helps to transport lymph (a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells) and other immune system cells throughout the body, to fight cancer. The undamaged metastasized cancer cells, move through the lymphatic vessels and settle in distant body locations, hence, forms new tumors, and keep the disease process in existence.
Some common symptoms of breast cancer are:
Consult a doctor, if you discover any lumps or other changes in your breast. A mammogram can be useful to detect the early signs of breast cancer.
Abnormal growth of breast cells causes breast cancer. Hence, breast cancer is the result of mutation and unusual changes in genes that modulate healthy cell growth. The most commonly known are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA 1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA 2), which can increase the risk of breast cancer.
The abnormal cells divide themselves and continue to increase, forming a lump or mass. Cells spread through the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of your body.
Many times, breast cancer starts with cells in the ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma). It can also begin in the glandular tissue known as lobules (invasive lobular carcinoma), or in other cells or tissue within the breast.
There are hormonal, lifestyle, and environmental factors identified by the researchers that can increase the risk of breast cancer. But, the reason why some people with risk factors develop cancer, yet other people with risk factors never do, is not known. Likely, breast cancer is caused by a complex interconnection between the genotype and the environment.
Breast cancer is divided into various types, depending on the cells identified in the breast that are affected.
1) Non-invasive breast cancers –Most breast cancers are carcinomas, which are tumors that begins in the epithelial tissue of the skin, or in the tissue that covers internal organs. The most common breast cancer is adenocarcinoma, which forms in milk-producing glands or milk ducts.
2) Invasive breast cancers –Most breast cancers are invasive (or infiltrating) breast cancer. It can spread in normal, healthy tissues surrounding the breasts. The most common ones are:
There are some less common but serious breast cancers, which are developed in different ways, which affect their treatment procedure.
3) Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) – This cancer is referred to the cancer cells that do not have estrogen or progesterone receptors and accounts for about 10% to 15% of all breast cancers. The cancer cells do not build much of a protein called HER2.
4) Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) – This type of cancer makes the breasts red, tender, and swollen. In this, the cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. It accounts for about 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.
Factors that are related to an increased risk of breast cancer include:
Though breast cancer surgery is safe, there can be several complications.
Psychological complications are:
Secondary physical issues are:
Complications that can occur after the surgery are:
If any symptom is discovered, the doctor will suggest several tests, such as:
In stage 4, cancer has spread to distant parts of the body. Hence, itis considered advanced breast cancer or metastatic breast cancer. In this stage, cancer may be present in the lungs, brain, liver, or bones.
In stage 1, surgery is the main treatment for breast cancer. Breast-conserving surgery is referred if doctors can remove all of the tumors along with a lining of healthy tissue around it and still enough tissue will be there for the breast to look natural as before, after surgery.
Stage 2, requires 3 to 18 months or longer, in the active treatment of breast cancer. It may be as simple as surgery and six weeks of radiation or involve the full arrangement of chemo, radiation, and biologic therapies.
In stage 3, surgery, known as a mastectomy is referred to remove cancerous tissue along with the lymph nodes. Radiation therapy can also be used to damage cancerous cells or tumors. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for stage 3.
Systematic drugs are considered as the main treatment for stage 4. Some common treatments like surgery, radiation therapy, or regional chemotherapy are also used. It is important to address the mental health issues that a stage 4breast cancer diagnosis may cause.
Some of the preventions of breast cancer are:
It is possible to be detected with breast cancer during pregnancy, however, it is rare and is not caused due to the pregnancy. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy have great tension in concern with the safety of the unborn child. It can be a distressing and extremely difficult situation, but there is still hope for both mother and child, because of the multiple treatment options available.
The survival rate for breast cancer is much higher when compared to any other cancers. Some of the survival rates are:
If the patient has health insurance, breast cancer treatment is usually covered by health insurance, however, some plans might not cover individual drugs or treatments. If the patient does not have health insurance, breast cancer treatment basically costs $15,000 to $50,000 or more for a mastectomy or $17,000 to $35,000 or more for a lumpectomy followed by radiation.
Do not be worried about breast cancer. The survival rates of breast cancer are excellent but it needs to be diagnosed at an early stage.