Breast cancer - Symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, home remedy

Overview

Breast cancer is a cancer that begins in breast tissue. Except skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among the American women. It can occur in both men and women, while it’s far more common in women. Some women have higher risk of breast cancer than others because of family history. Mammograms can make you find this condition in advance and increase the chance of survival with breast cancer.

Breast cancer stages range from early, curable breast cancer to metastatic breast cancer, with a variety of breast cancer treatments. Breast cancer is strongly related to age with only 5% occurring in women under 40 years old.

Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women worldwide. It affects about 12% of women. Breast cancer accounts for 16% of all female cancers.

In 2011, there were more than 41,000 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer registered in England, and around 80% of these cases were women above 50 years old. According to U.S. statistics in 2015, there were 2.8 million women affected by breast cancer.

The incidence of breast cancer is the lowest in developing countries and greatest in the developed countries. Survival rates of breast cancer in developed countries are high, with between 80% and 90% of those in England and the United States alive for at least 5 years.

Causes

According to many studies, hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer have been identified. However, it is still not clear why some people who have no risk factors get breast cancer, while other people with risk factors never do.

Risk factors

Many factors are related to breast cancer, including:

Being a woman.
Women are much more likely to get breast cancer than men.

Age.
The risk of breast cancer increases as you get older.

A personal history of breast conditions.
If you find lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia of the breast, you will have an increased risk of breast cancer.

A personal history of breast cancer.
If you’ve had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of breast cancer in the other breast.

A family history of breast cancer.
Though the majority of patients with breast cancer have no family history of this disease, people who have a family history of breast cancer have an increased risk of this disease.

Genetics.
Certain gene mutations which increase the risk of breast cancer can be passed from parents to their children. Currently, the most well-known gene mutations are BRCA1 and BRCA2. They can greatly increase the risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they don’t make cancer inevitable.

Postmenopausal hormone therapy.
Women who take hormone therapy medications (combine estrogen and progesterone) to treat the symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer can decrease when they stop taking these medications.

Radiation to chest or face before age 30.
If you had radiation to the chest to treat another cancer, or had radiation to the face to treat acne when you are a teenager, you have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Certain breast changes.
Certain benign breast conditions can bring the risk of breast cancer. If you have these conditions, you may have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Race.
Compared with African American, Hispanic, and Asian women, white women have a high risk of breast cancer. But African American women are more likely to develop more aggressive, more advanced-stage breast cancer which is diagnosed at a young age.

Being overweight.
Overweight and obese women have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause.

Having never been pregnant.
Women who have never been pregnant have a greater risk of breast cancer than women who had one or more pregnancies.

Pregnancy history.
Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy, or have their first child after age 30 have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who gave birth before age 30.

Menstrual history.
Women who started menstruating younger than 12 years old, or have menopause after 55 years old have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
According to the data, users of HRT have a higher risk of breast cancer

Drinking alcohol.
Research consistently shows that drinking alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and liquor, increases the risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.

Dense breasts.
According to the studies, dense breasts can be 6 times more likely to develop cancer and can make it harder for mammograms to detect breast cancer.

Lack of Exercise.

Smoking.

Low of vitamin D Levels.
According to some studies, Vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing.

Light exposure at night.
The results of several studies suggest that women who work at night, such as factory workers, doctors, and police, have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who work during the day. In addition, some research suggests that women who live in areas with high levels of external light at night (such as street lights) have a higher risk of breast cancer.

DES (Diethylstilbestrol) exposure.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, some pregnant women were given DES to prevent miscarriage. These women and their daughter have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

Some factors are not related to breast cancer while many people don’t think so, including:

  • Using antiperspirants.
  • Wearing underwire bras.
  • Having an abortion or miscarriage.
  • Having fibrocystic breast changes (dense breast tissue with benign cysts).
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Coffee and caffeine.
  • Using hair dye.

Symptoms

Many unusual changes in the breast may be a sign of breast cancer.

  • A lump in the breast or underarm that persists after your menstrual cycle.
    This is often the first apparent symptom of breast cancer. These lumps are usually painless, and visible on a mammogram long before they can be seen or felt.
  • A noticeable flattening or indentation on the breast.
  • The change in the size, contour or texture of the breast.
  • Nipple pain, nipple turning inward, itching, a burning sensation, or ulceration.
  • The nipple or breast skin become red, scaly or thick.
  • Unusual nipple discharge.
  • A marble-like area under the skin.

Stages

Stage 0 & 1
These two stages are the earliest period of breast cancer, means the cancer cells are confined to a very limited area.

Stage 2
This stage is still the earlier stages of breast cancer, but there is evidence that the cancer has begun to grow or spread. In addition, it is still confined to the breast and generally can be very effectively treated.

Stage 3
Stage 3 breast cancer is considered as advanced cancer.

Stage 4
At stage 4, cancer has spread beyond the breast to other areas of the body.

Diagnosis

Your doctors may diagnose breast cancer by following tests.

Breast exam.
Your doctor will check both of your breasts and lymph nodes in your armpit, feeling for any lumps or other abnormalities.

Mammogram.

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. It’s the most recommended test in screening breast cancer. Women over 40 years ago are recommended to take mammogram every year.

Breast ultrasound.

Ultrasound imaging of the breast uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It is primarily used to help diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities your doctor may have found during a physical exam, mammogram or breast MRI. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive and does not use radiation.

Removing a sample of breast cells for testing (biopsy).
This is the only way to diagnose breast cancer.

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
An MRI doesn’t use radiation but a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of the interior of your breast.

Treatments

According to the stage of your breast cancer, there are some treatments you may choose.

Surgery

  • Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy).
  • Removing the entire breast (mastectomy).
  • Removing a limited number of lymph nodes (sentinel node biopsy).
  • Removing several lymph nodes (axillary lymph node dissection).
  • Removing both breasts.

Chemotherapy

Radiation Therapy

Hormonal Therapy

Targeted Therapy

Immunotherapy

Treatments for Pain

Prevention

Have regular mammograms.
For women over 50 years old who are not at high risk, screening every other year is recommended.

Breast self-exam.
It can be a part of your monthly health care routine.

Breastfeeding.
According to the data, breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year.

Do more exercise.

Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Choose a healthy diet.

The diet for preventing breast cancer emphasizes foods rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory substances. It is recommended to consume fresh, whole fruits and vegetables every day.

Latest

Jul 24, 2019

Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have developed a way to screen for breast cancer which outpaces all the existing technologies.

Researchers use a chip made of carbon nanotubes to capture circulating tumor cells (CTCs) of all sizes and types in blood, and can do so with far greater sensitivity than existing technologies. The unique design of the device makes it possible to easily identify and even culture the captured cells, which could make it possible to detect early-stage tumors, predict the course of a cancer, and monitor the effects of therapy.

High cancer mortality rates are largely attributable to tumors developing undetected until they reach advanced or inoperable stages, and to metastasis. This technology could make it possible to detect cancers at very early stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful, and to spot the genetic changes that tumor cells undergo when a cancer is beginning to metastasize.

Keywords: breast cancer; mammogram.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.