Breast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the breast, where the growth of breast cells becomes uncontrolled (breastcancer.org).
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the world. This disease can occur in both men and women, but is much more common in women.
Support to women about breast cancer awareness and funding for breast cancer researchers has helped create advances in breast cancer detection and treatment. The survival rate for women with breast cancer has increased, and the number of deaths associated with the disease continues to decline.
Much of this increased survival is due to factors such as a woman’s awareness of examining her breasts early, adoption of new therapies or treatment systems and a better understanding of the disease.
Cause of Breast Cancer
Cancer can occur due to gene mutations or abnormal changes in cells. Genes are responsible for regulating cell growth and keeping them healthy.. Genes are in the nucleus of each cell, which acts as the “control room” of each cell. Normally, the cells in our bodies replace themselves through a process of regular cell growth: new healthy cells take over once the old ones die.
But over time, mutations in cancer cells in the breast can “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” other genes in cells. The altered cells acquire the ability to continue dividing without control or order, producing more such cells and forming tumors.
Tumors can be benign (harmless to health) or malignant (potentially dangerous). Benign tumors are not considered cancer: the cells are similar in appearance, slow growing, and do not invade surrounding tissue or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. If allowed to continue, these malignant cells can spread outside the tumor to other parts of the body.
The term “breast cancer” refers to a malignant tumor that develops from cells in the breast. Usually cancer cells occur in lobule cells, these cells are milk-producing glands, or ducts that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less commonly, this disease can start in the stromal tissue, which includes the fatty and fibrous connective tissue of the breast.
Cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and enter the lymph nodes of the armpit, a small organ that filters foreign substances in the body. If cancer cells enter the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway to other parts of the body. The term “cancer stage” refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor.
Cancer of the breast is always caused by genetic disorders (“errors” in genetic material). However, only 5-10% of cancers are caused by disorders that were passed on from your mother or father. About 90% of breast cancer causes due to genetic disorders that occur as a result of the aging process and the “wear and tear” of life in general.
There are steps everyone can take to help the body stay as healthy as possible, such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and getting regular exercise. While this may have an impact on your risk of developing cancer, it does not eliminate that risk.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Signs and symptoms include:
• There is a lump or thickening of the breast that feels different from the tissue around the breast
• There is a change in the shape, size and appearance of your breasts.
• There is a change in the skin over the breast
• Newly inverted nipples
• The skin around the breasts peeling, scaly, hardening in the pigmented area around the nipple (areola)
• The skin over the breasts is reddish in color or freckles on the skin above the breasts like orange skin color
Breast cancer risk factors are all things or causes that can make you more susceptible to this disease. If it happens or you think there are one or more risk factors for cancer, it does not mean you will get breast cancer.
Factors that can increase your risk of breast cancer include:
• Women are much more at risk of developing breast cancer than men
• Age factor. As you get older, the risk of developing breast cancer is getting bigger
• Have had a breast biopsy
• Personal history of breast cancer.
• Family history of breast cancer.
• Inherited genes that increase the risk of cancer.
• Have had radiation exposure to the chest area
• Obesity can increase the risk of breast cancer.
• Starting your period before age 12 can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
• If women start menopause at an older age, they are more likely to develop breast cancer.
• A woman who gives birth to her first child after age 30 has an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
• Women who have never been pregnant have a greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who have never been pregnant.
• Women who have taken postmenopausal hormone therapy drugs such as estrogen and progesterone have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
• Drinking alcoholic beverages increases the risk of breast cancer.