By: Marium Khan,
Introduction- Breast Cancer is the life-threatening disease which is a health concern for women around the world. The disease is the second major cause of death among women after lung cancer. The disease is so widespread across the globe that in every 29 seconds a woman is diagnosed with the breast cancer. The disease has affected both the developed countries and less developed countries, but it is more invasive in developed countries. The number of cases is also increasing in developing countries due to the increased urbanization and change in lifestyle. According to the world health organization, more than 1.5 Million women suffers from the breast cancer each year and more than 570,000 women died of breast cancer which is 15% of the total deaths due to the cancerous diseases among women. These appalling statistics can be reduced only when society is more aware of the disease, thereby increasing the chances of early detection and diagnose. That’s why here we will discuss the disease, breast cancer symptoms, Causes, Risk factor and Treatment to control the shocking numbers of the disease.
As obvious from the term Breast cancer, the disease affects the breast of the women. After attaining the puberty the breast of the female consists of fats, glands, lobules, and the duct which carries the milk to the nipples. The Cancers starts when the body cell around the breast grow out excessively. Those cells create the tumor which may take the form of a lump in the breast. Sometimes the lump cannot be felt and it can only be viewed with the help of X-Rays. If the tumor left untreated the cancerous cells may spread to nearby organs or body parts.
The breast cancer affects the ducts or tubes which carry the milk. This type of breast cancer is usually called Ductal Carcinoma or Ductal cancer. However, it may start from the glands, lobules, which are responsible for making the milk. Cancer spreads to other parts of the body when the cancerous cells are entered into the blood or lymph system. The lymph system is the network of the vessel around the whole body which carries the fluid called lymph. The cell when entered into the lymph vessel grow into a lymph nodes, through which it can travel to other parts of the body. The second type of the disease is non-invasive. The cancerous cell affects & remain inside the place where they originated, and they don’t spread out to other body parts.
It is noteworthy to mention that not all the breast lumps are cancerous and not all the breast cancer cases include the lumps. These lumps are mostly benign tumors which are an excessive growth of breast and it does not spread to other parts of the body. Though, these benign growths may increase the chance of getting the breast cancer in the future. Therefore, it is highly recommended that if one has the symptoms of lumps on their breast, they must consult the medical practitioner for determining whether the lump is benign or cancerous.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Majority of the women who suffer from the breast cancer disease experience the thickness of the tissues around the breast in the form of a lump. The feeling is very different than the tissues in the surrounding of the area, that’s why it is easily distinguishing. The patient may experience the change in the size, shape, and appearance of the breast. It can cause pain either in the breast or armpit. The skin may be dimpled, reddish or pitting as the skin of an orange. The other symptoms include the nipple inversion, rashes around one or both nipples, peeling, scaling and flaking of the skin or the nipple area.
Breast Cancer Causes & Risk Factors
The exact cause of breast cancer is still unknown, but the majority of the researchers are agreed that the lifestyle factor, environmental elements, and certain hormonal features increased the chances of getting breast cancer. The disease may be inherited from the parents. More ten 5 to 10 percent of the cases are linked to the gene transfer from the parents. Researchers had identified certain genes which increase the likelihood of getting the disease. Women’s who have genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 have higher chances of getting breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
The age factor is also very important. The risk increases with the age, the females around twenty years have 0.84% chance of developing a breast cancer. Whereas, women about 75 years have 3.84% of the chance getting the disease.
The women who have the history of suffering in the past, it increases likelihood that they might develop the disease again in the future. As mentioned earlier the benign lumps also increase the risk of getting the disease in future.
The breast tissues which are denser are much likely to develop the breast cancer. The obesity is also one the factor which is also the cause of various diseases. It is also one of the causes of breast cancer. The women who got obesity and overweight-ness after the menopause are much likely to suffer from the breast cancer. Moreover, the high exposure to estrogen also increases the risk factor.
The other factors which increase the likelihood of the disease include high alcohol consumption, radiation exposure, hormone treatment, occupational hazards and giving birth to the child in the age more than 30 Years. The women who consume alcohol more than three times a day increase the chance of getting the disease by 50%.
Breast Cancer Treatment
The treatment of the breast cancer may include various options like surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapy or medication. All of these treatment factors hinges upon the type of the breast cancer, its stage, the age of the patient and the medical condition of the patient.
The surgery is helpful for removing the tumor from the breast if it is small in size. The aim of the surgery is to separate the unhealthy tissue with the healthy ones. This type of surgery is usually called lumpectomy. The surgeries like Mastectomy requires the removal of fat, muscle, lobules, nipple and some skin part. After undergoing the breast surgery, the breast starts to get normal in the following weeks. The breast implant is another option in which tissues from other parts of the body are implanted to the breast.
The radiation therapy requires the successive controlled radiation exposures. The radiation kills the cancerous cells. The patients are exposed to radiation once per week for three to five weeks depending upon the stage and the gravity of the disease.
The chemotherapy is another option for treatment of the breast cancer. The type and level of the disease determine which type of chemotherapy is fit against the disease. The chemotherapy is effective both in early stages and later stages when the tumor is already spread to other parts of the body. Adjuvant Chemotherapy is recommended when the risk of spreading is high. A Medication called cytotoxic drugs is used in this therapy which kills the cancer cells. The neo-adjuvant chemotherapy is usually done before the surgery. This method reduces the size of the tumor by shrinking, thereby making the removal of tumor easy during the surgery. The Chemotherapy is also effective to reduce the estrogen production, which increases the growth of breast cancer.
Biological treatment of breast cancer is best for certain types of breast cancers. This method uses specific drugs like Herceptin, lapatinib and Avastin, etc. to destroy the tumor. But Self-medication is very dangerous in this regard. The doctor’s advice, especially the specialist, is necessary for determining the right course.
There is no particular way for the prevention of the disease but certain factors like the healthy lifestyle reduce the chances of getting the breast cancer. The most important one recommended by the doctors is breast feeding. The Breastfeeding reduces the chances of getting the disease because it reduces the exposure to estrogen after the pregnancy period. Moreover, avoiding the excessive alcohol, maintaining the healthy body mass index BMI, exercises, and plenty of fruits & vegetables usage are the key to maintain health, and it also helps to avoid multiple diseases including breast cancer.