Do you know more than millions of peoples are affected by breast cancer all over the world? Well, it is absolutely true and any age of people can be affected by it.
It is a really disheartening fact, especially when the world has advanced this much!
However, the good news is with early detection and knowing the signs and symptoms of this fatal disease can make all the diffrence. From saving lives to protecting yourself and your loved ones, the list goes on!
Hence, instead of fearing the disease, know the disease and take actions accordingly. That’s why, today, we are going to talk about the 12 signs of breast cancer. So, whenever your body sends you an SOS signal, you know what to do!
Read on to find out more!
2 Types of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is usually categorized by the kind of cell that initiates it and whether or not it is invasive. By invasive cancers it means they have spread from the place where they begin into the surrounding tissues.
On the other hand, the non-invasive cancers are still within the milk ducts or the breast lobules. And understanding these variations is extremely crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailoring effective treatment plans.
Hence, let’s talk about them in a more detailed way, so you can develop a better understanding on them:
1. Non-Invasive Cancer
In non-invasive breast cancer, abnormal cells remain confined within the breast ducts or lobules, without invading surrounding tissues.
I. Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)
DCIS, often referred to as “stage zero” breast cancer, involves the presence of abnormal cells within the milk ducts.
While it hasn’t spread to surrounding tissues, it’s essential to treat DCIS promptly. Otherwise, DCIS can progress into a more advanced stage over time, if left untreated.
The treatment options might include surgery, such as lumpectomy or mastectomy, followed by radiation therapy in some cases.
II. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)
LCIS isn’t truly a cancer but a marker indicating an increased risk of developing breast cancer. It involves abnormal cell growth within the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands of the breast.
It doesn’t typically require aggressive treatment. Instead, it serves as a warning sign, prompting increased surveillance and regular breast health checks to monitor any potential changes.
2. Invasive Cancer
Invasive breast cancers are more aggressive and have breached the ducts or lobules, in most cases, spreading to surrounding tissues or nearby lymph nodes.
I. Ductal Carcinoma
Ductal carcinoma, also known as invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), is the most common type of invasive breast cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of cases.
It begins in the milk ducts and can break through the duct walls, invading the surrounding breast tissue. And depending on the stage, it may also spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Treatment options depend on the stage and extent of the cancer and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy.
II. Lobular Carcinoma
Lobular carcinoma, or invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), begins in the lobules of the breast. While it is less common than ductal carcinoma, it has its unique characteristics. They tend to be more challenging to detect on mammograms and might not form a distinct lump.
The treatment methods for invasive lobular carcinoma are quite similar to those for ductal carcinoma and are tailored based on the stage and other factors.
Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
To understand and combat this disease effectively, it’s crucial to be fully aware of its risk factors, which can be both depressing and encouraging. As knowing the risk of breast cancer beforehand will prepare you more for a better health and future.
They are as follows:
One of the most compelling and well-known risk factors is a family history of breast cancer. If your mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer, your risk automatically gets higher. As genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can be passed down, significantly increasing your susceptibility.
However, remember that most people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history, so regular screening is extremely crucial for everyone.
Personal Health History
If you previously had breast cancer, even in one breast, you are at a higher risk of developing it again. Additionally, certain non-cancerous breast conditions can increase your risk, so keeping your medical history in check is of utmost importance.
As mentioned earlier, some genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly raise the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, genetic testing and counseling is a must. Because it can help individuals understand their risk and take appropriate measures accordingly.
Environmental & Lifestyle Choices
Lifestyle factors play a pivotal role. Obesity, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking can greatly increase your risk.
Plus, exposure to environmental toxins, such as those in some workplaces, may also play a huge part. Hence, opting for a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding harmful habits can lower your risk to a great extent.
Hormonal factors, like early menstruation, late menopause, or hormone replacement therapy, can also influence breast cancer risk. Besides, women who have children later in life or never bear children may also face a slightly elevated risk.
12 Breast Cancer Symptoms and Signs Revealed!
Breast cancer can be a silent intruder, but it often leaves behind subtle clues. And recognizing these 12 symptoms and signs is extremely crucial for early detection, potentially saving tons of lives all around the globe.
1. Lump or Thickening in the Breast
This is often the first and most recognizable sign of breast cancer. These lumps are usually painless and can vary in size. They may be discovered during a routine self-exam, which is why regular self-checks are vital for early detection.
However, not all lumps are cancerous, and many women have benign (non-cancerous) lumps. Here, the ultimate key is to be vigilant about the changes. And upon noticing a new lump or an existing one getting larger, harder, or irregular in shape, make sure to consult your healthcare provider right away. The sooner, the better!
2. Swelling of the Breast
Any kind of unexplained breast swelling or enlargement can be a big cause for concern. That is, this change in size may not necessarily be accompanied by pain but should raise a red flag. And while breast swelling can occur due to various factors like hormonal changes, pregnancy, or injury, persistent, unexplained swelling calls for a check-up.
3. Changes in the Skin of the Breast
The skin over your breast can provide important clues. Hence, always look out for any noticeable alterations in texture, such as dimpling or puckering. These changes might indicate an underlying issue, along with an immediate medical evaluation.
4. Nipple Discharge
Nipple discharge that occurs spontaneously and is not associated with breastfeeding or squeezing the nipple can be a concerning sign. This discharge may be clear, bloody, or another color. While not all nipple discharge is cancer-related, it should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
5. Nipple Retraction
If your nipple suddenly starts to pull inward or change its position, it’s essential to get it checked out. This change in nipple position can be due to cancerous growths that are altering the breast’s structure. And over time, it may be accompanied by discomfort or pain.
6. Dimpling of the Skin
Often referred to as “skin dimpling” or “peau d’orange,” this symptom occurs when the breast skin takes on a dimpled or pitted appearance, similar to the surface of an orange. This change is usually due to blocked lymph vessels and can be a sign of an underlying issue.
7. Redness or Scaliness of the Skin
Persistent redness or scaliness that doesn’t go away is a big concern that must be not overlooked in any way. The symptom can resemble a rash and may be accompanied by warmth and tenderness.
8. Itchy or Flaky Skin
Persistent itching, flakiness, or rash-like symptoms on or around the nipple or breast can be indicative of an issue beneath the surface. Though these symptoms can have various causes, including benign ones, they should be examined by a healthcare provider. After all, it is better to be sorry than later on!
9. Pain in the Breast or Nipple
While breast pain is not typically a primary symptom of breast cancer, it can occasionally occur. So, if you experience any kind of unexplained or persistent breast or nipple pain, it’s essential to seek medical evaluation. It’s important to note that breast cancer-related pain is not always present, so the absence of pain doesn’t rule out the disease.
10. Hard Lump in the Breast
While not all hard lumps are cancerous, any new lump or a change in the characteristics of an existing one should be thoroughly examined. Your healthcare provider may recommend a mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy to determine the nature of the lump.
11. Growing Veins on the Breast
Noticeable changes in the vein patterns on your breast can be a huge cause for concern. So, if you observe new or expanding veins that seem more prominent than usual, it’s advisable to seek medical advice as quickly as possible.
12. Breast Firmness
Your breasts can naturally change in texture and firmness during your menstrual cycle. However, if you notice persistent, unexplained firmness or thickening in one breast, it could be a red flag. And it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional in such cases.
Remember that the symptoms of breast cancer can vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience only one or a combination of them. So, it’s essential to trust your instincts and be proactive about your breast health more than anything. After all, your health is above everything!
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
Diagnosing breast cancer is a crucial step in early detection and treatment. It involves a combination of methods to ensure accuracy and thoroughness.
Here is a list of the things, following which breast cancer can be effectively diagnosed:
- Clinical Examination: It all begins with a skilled healthcare provider conducting a clinical breast exam. They may look out for any lumps or irregularities, noting any changes in the breast’s size, shape, or texture.
- Mammography: This is the most common and standard screening tool. It involves taking X-ray images of the breast tissue to detect any hidden tumors or masses that may not be felt during a clinical exam.
- Ultrasound: If an abnormality is found during a mammogram, an ultrasound can provide further insights. It uses sound waves to create images of the breast tissue.
- Biopsy: To confirm if a suspicious lesion is cancerous, a biopsy is performed. This involves removing a small tissue sample from the suspicious area for analysis. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to determine if it’s cancerous or not.
- MRI: In some cases, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to get a more detailed view of the breast tissue, especially for high-risk individuals or to further investigate the abnormalities.
- Genetic Testing: For those with a strong family history of breast cancer, genetic testing can identify specific gene mutations, like BRCA1 or BRCA2, which increase the potential risk of developing the disease.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests might be conducted to check for tumor markers or other indicators of breast cancer.
What Is the Treatment for Breast Cancer?
When it comes to battling breast cancer, the journey may seem disheartening and super challenging, but there is still hope!
All credit goes to the numerous treatment options available. However, the approach to treating breast cancer depends on various factors such as the stage of cancer, its type, and the patient’s overall health.
Here’s a short glimpse into the arsenal of treatments:
- Surgery: Often the first step, surgery involves removing the tumor and possibly surrounding tissue. The options usually range from lumpectomy (removing only the tumor) to mastectomy (removing the whole breast).
- Radiation Therapy: This uses high-energy rays to target and kill cancer cells. And mostly use post-surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Medications are administered to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It’s particularly effective in cases where cancer has been spread.
- Hormone Therapy: If the cancer is hormone-receptor positive, hormone-blocking drugs can be used to prevent cancer cells from receiving the hormones they need to grow.
- Targeted Therapy: Targeted drugs are designed to attack specific molecules involved in cancer growth. Ultimately, minimizing the damage to healthy cells.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment basically utilizes the body’s immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells. So, you can fully heal and recover soon.
There you have it – the 12 signs of breast cancer revealed!
Always remember, in the journey of life, knowledge is like the greatest tool, especially when it comes to our health. And detecting the signs of breast cancer, not only you will be saving yourself but at the same time will be creating awareness among the people.
After all, it can affect anyone – age, race, background, nothing matters to them!
So, let’s share this knowledge far and wide to make sure that no one faces this disease alone. As together, we can really make a difference.
Always stay vigilant, informed, and healthy. Your life is totally worth it!