Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer types affecting women worldwide. It occurs when the cells in the breast start growing abnormally, forming a tumor that can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. While breast cancer can also occur in men, it is relatively rare.
Breast cancer can be a scary diagnosis, but understanding the basics of the disease can help patients and their loved ones feel more informed and empowered. This article will go beyond the basics and provide an in-depth understanding of breast cancer, including its causes, symptoms, types, stages, and treatment options.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the breast tissue. It usually starts in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple or in the lobules, which are the glands that produce milk. Breast cancer can be invasive or non-invasive. Non-invasive breast cancer stays within the milk ducts or lobules, while invasive breast cancer can spread to other body parts.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): - Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for about 80% of all cases. It starts in the breast's milk ducts and can spread to the surrounding breast tissue and other parts of the body. IDC can also cause breast shape or size changes, skin dimpling, and nipple discharge.
Metastatic Breast Cancer:Metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage IV breast cancer, is the most advanced form. It occurs when breast cancer cells spread to other body parts, such as the bones, liver, or lungs. While metastatic breast cancer is not curable, it can be treated to help manage the symptoms and prolong the patient's life.
Breast cancer stages is essential in determining the appropriate treatment plan and understanding the prognosis of the disease. The breast cancer stages are typically determined by evaluating the tumour size, the extent of lymph node involvement, and the presence of metastasis, or cancer spread, to other parts of the body.
Stage 0: Also known as carcinoma in situ, this stage of breast cancer is non-invasive and involves abnormal cells within the breast's milk ducts or lobules. The cancer cells have not spread to the surrounding tissues or lymph nodes.
Stage I: At this stage, the tumor is small and localized within the breast. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or other body parts.
Stage II: At this stage, the tumour may have grown and spread to the nearby lymph nodes but has not spread to distant parts of the body.
Stage III: At this stage, the tumor has grown considerably and may have spread to the lymph nodes near the breast. It may also have spread to the chest wall or breast skin.
Stage IV: Also known as metastatic breast cancer, this stage occurs when cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.
The stage of breast cancer plays a crucial role in determining the appropriate course of treatment.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is the presence of a lump or thickening in the breast tissue, which is often painless. However, not all lumps are cancerous, and some women may have lumpy breasts due to normal hormonal changes. That's why it's important to perform regular self-exams and get mammograms as recommended by your doctor.
In addition to lumps, breast cancer may cause other symptoms, such as pain or discomfort. This pain is often described as a dull ache or heaviness and may be felt in one or both breasts. Nipple discharge is another possible symptom of breast cancer. The discharge may be clear, bloody, or a greenish color. However, most nipple discharge is not cancerous and is often caused by a benign breast condition.
Changes in breast size or shape may also be a symptom of breast cancer. The breast may become larger or smaller than the other breast, or the shape may be distorted. In some cases, the skin on the breast may appear dimpled or puckered, or there may be redness or scaling. If you notice any of these changes, it's important to see a doctor for further evaluation.
While there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, several lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding smoking.
Breast cancer is a complex disease that affects millions of women worldwide. However, with early detection and appropriate treatment, the prognosis for breast cancer patients is improving. By understanding the basics of breast cancer, including its causes, symptoms, types, stages, and treatment options, patients and their loved ones can feel more empowered to make informed decisions about their health.