Breast Cancer In Women

Breast cancer is the most common aggressive cancer in women, and the second main cause of death in women, after lung cancer.  

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer develops when breast tissue cells mutate and keep reproducing. These abnormal cells usually cluster together to form a tumor. A tumor is cancerous when these abnormal cells affect other parts of the breast or when the cancer cells start spreading to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Symptoms of breast cancer

The major symptom of breast cancer in women is an area of thickened tissue in the breast, or a lump in the breast or in an armpit.  An early diagnosis of breast cancer increases the chance of recovery.  Some other symptoms of breast cancer are:

  • pain in the breast armpits or breast that does not change with the monthly cycle
  • pitting or redness of the skin of the breast, like the skin of an orange
  • sunken or inverted nipple
  • change in the shape or size of the breast
  • a rash around the nipples
  • a discharge from a nipple, possibly containing blood
  • flaking, peeling or flaking off the skin on the breast or nipple

Most of the lumps are not cancerous, however, women should have them checked by their doctor.

5 Stages of breast cancer

The stage of breast cancer is determined according to the size of the tumor or whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Breast cancer varies from stage 0 to 4, but these may be broken down into smaller stages.

Stage 0: This stage is usually known as ductal carcinoma. At this stage, the cancer cells are still limited to a duct and haven’t affected the surrounding tissues.

Stage 1: At this stage, the tumor has grown up to 2 cm and might not have affected any lymph nodes.

Stage 2: The tumor is 2 cm across and has started affecting nearby nodes.

Stage 3: The tumor is up to 5 cm across and may have spread to some lymph nodes.

Stage 4: Cancer has spread to distant organs, especially the bones, liver, brain, or lungs.

Risk factors for breast cancer

Women usually are 100 times more prone to breast cancer than men. And the chances of cancer increases with these factors:

  • Age – The risk of breast cancer increases with your age. The women over age 55 have more risk of invasive breast cancers.
  • Drinking alcohol – Drinking alcohol in excessive amounts raises the risk of cancer.
  • Genes – Women who have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t.
  • History – The women who have the history of cancer in their family are more prone to invasive breast cancer.
  • Early menstruation ­– The risk of breast cancer is more if you had your first period before age 12.
  • Hormone therapy – Women who took or are taking hormone therapy i.e., postmenopausal estrogen and progesterone medications to reduce the signs of menopause symptoms are more prone to breast cancer.
  • Giving birth at an older age – Women who don’t have their first child until the age of 35 have more risk of invasive breast cancer.
  • Never being pregnant – Women who never conceived or never carried a pregnancy to full-term have more chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Previous breast cancer – If you have had breast cancer in any of your breasts, your chances of getting breast cancer are more than other women.

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