What Is Breast Cancer?
It is when your breast cells grow uncontrollably. You first need to understand that cancer is normally a result of mutation, a condition in which the cells grow rapidly and begin to multiply. The tumor, or cancer can be divided into two types; benign and malignant. When a tumor is benign, it is normally harmless. It grows slowly and does not spread to other parts of your body. Whereas a malignant tumor is cancerous, and may spread to other parts of the body. Usually, breast cancers either begin in the cells of lobules (milk producing glands) or the milk ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipples. They may also begin in the stromal tissues, which contain the fatty and connective tissues of your breast. Slowly, the cancerous cells may attack the healthy tissues nearby and then make their way to the lymph nodes. And when lymph nodes get infected by cancer cells, then it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. HNBT will be sharing with you several early breast cancer symptoms, stages and its treatment.
Breast Cancer Stages
In this stage, there is no evidence of a cancerous cell breaking out of the breast tissues or in any nearby lymph nodes.
In this stage, it is invasive. The tumor may be not longer than 2 cm. And the lymph nodes are usually not involved. Should the lymph nodes be involved, a group of cancerous cells measuring not more than 2 mm might be found. In stage 1, microscopic invasion is possible.
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At this stage, the it begin to spread to the surrounding tissues and nearest lymph nodes. But in most cases, the tumor (usually measuring not more than 5 cm) is unlikely to spread to the axillary lymph nodes. If it has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, the tumor should be less than 2cm.
Stage 3 normally describes the spreading to more than 5 lymph nodes. If tumor is present, it should be larger than 5 cm and is likely to spread to the walls of your chest. Cancerous cells form in larger group in the lymph nodes and swelling occurs. The skin reddens and starts feelings warm.
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This stage means, it has spread to other parts of the body such as lungs, distant lymph nodes, skin, bones, brain and even liver. 90% of the nodules become cancerous and symptoms begin to worsen.
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Breast Cancer Symptoms
It is indeed crucial for all the women to learn the sure signs of breast cancer. Formation of lump is normally the first symptom. But we must bear in mind that most lumps (90%) are not cancerous. Many young girls especially tend to develop lumps. It is a condition in which your breast tissues harden, or curdle up and is fairly safe. However, remember to check this with a doctor first to ensure that is safe and not cancerous. The warning signs of breast cancer which can be found in your breasts are;
- A lump, or a thickened tissue
- The change in the shape or size
- Discharge from the nipple (streaked with blood sometimes)
- Lump and swelling under the armpit
- Dimpling of skin
- Rashes on, or around the nipple
- Nipple appears sunken into the breast
- Pain in breast or armpits (when you’re not even on period)
Following are pictures of breast lumps :
Causes Of Breast Cancer
What exactly causes it is not known. But however, experts have listed out several risk factors that increase a woman’s likelihood of developing it.
It is said that the older a woman gets, the higher is her risk to develop a tumor. (after menopause especially)
Women with a close relative who has developedit or the ovarian cancer is more likely to develop this cancer.
- Dense tissues
When your breast tissue is dense, your chances of developing a cancer are higher.
Obesity may also trigger this. This is because overweight women normally have higher levels of estrogen, which may cause cancer.
Consumption of alcohol may lead to the same. It is advisable to have only one alcoholic beverage per day.
- Exposure to radiation
Women who have been treated by radiations on their chests, like the x-ray or CT scan also hold a high risk of developing it.
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Breast Cancer Treatment
There are variety of treatments and surgery available to treat this deadly disease. However, to decide the best treatment for you, your specialist or surgeon may take several factors into consideration. That includes the type you have developed, the stage, your overall health condition, your age and what you prefer. The treatment will also help to improve any form of breast cancer symptoms. Following are the list of treatments available :
The removal of tumor and a small margin of healthy tissues surrounding it. This surgery is done if the tumor is small and easy to be separated from the tissues around it.
Removal of the breast. Involves the removal of lobules, ducts, fatty tissues, nipple, areola, and some skin ( simple mastectomy). It may also include the removal of chest muscle wall and lymph nodes in the armpit (radical mastectomy).
- Sentinel node biopsy
Removal of one affected lymph node in the armpit to prevent further spreading of the cancer cells to the other parts of the body.
- Axillary lymph node dissection
Removal of several lymph nodes under the armpit.
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2. Radiotherapy (radiation therapy)
- Radiation therapy
A radiation directed to the remaining tissues after a lumpectomy.
- Chest wall radiation therapy
Radiation that is directed after a mastectomy.
- Lymph nodes radiation therapy
A radiation that is directed to the armpit and surrounding area to kill the infected cells that might have reach lymph nodes.
- Breast brachytherapy
Strut-based therapy that is given for those with an early stage cancer, commonly after a lumpectomy.
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The usage of cytotoxic drugs to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy is recommended for those who have a high risk of recurrent cancer, or when the cancer cells have spread to the other parts of body. If the tumor is large, chemotherapy is done before a surgery to shrink the tumor, making its removal easier.
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4. Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is used on patients whose cancer is sensitive to hormones. The aim of the therapy is to block the hormones after a surgery, or sometimes to shrink the tumor before a surgery. It normally lasts up to five years.
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You may also consider other therapies, like the acupuncture, or going on a biological therapy. Yoga may also help to ease the pain caused by the cancer. Also, be assured to go on vegetarian diets as they can help you balance your hormone levels. Not only that, you may take suitable nutritional supplements to maintain a good body weight and estrogen level. These may help a bit to treat your breast cancer symptoms.