Pain in the Breasts? Watch Out, It may be Breast Cancer

By ChemistsWorld On 27 Jun 2018

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer in women.

Although breast cancer can affect men too, this article in majority focuses on breast cancer in women. Breast cancer is a disease that occurs in the breast when the cells in the breast tissue change or mutate and keep on reproducing. A positive news is that the death rate due to breast cancer has declined in the recent years, perhaps due to the awareness amongst women about the disease, screenings and better treatments for this type of cancer.

Quick facts on Breast Cancer

  • It is one of the most common cancers amongst the women.
  • Some of the symptoms of breast cancer include a lump or thickening of the breast along with changes in the skin or the nipple/s.
  • At times, risk factors may be genetic, but it can also happen due to the lifestyle changes like regular intake of alcohol.
  • Due to the advancement in technology, a wide range of treatments are available for curing the breast cancer, these include, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
  • Although many breast lumps are not necessarily cancerous, any women noticing a lump or change in the skin tone of the breast must definitely see a doctor.

Symptoms

  • A rash around or on one of the nipples
  • A sunken or inverted nipple
  • A pain in the armpits or breasts that does not change with the monthly cycle
  • Scaling, flaking, or peeling of the skin on the breast or nipple
  • A change in the shape or size of the breast
  • A discharge from the nipple, possibly containing blood

Stages of Breast Cancer

There are different stages of breast cancer ranging from stage 0 to stage 4.

Stage 0: The cells are restricted within a duct and do not spread in the surrounding tissues.

Stage 1: In the initial phase of this stage, the tumor is up-to 2cm wide and it has not yet affected the lymph nodes.

Stage 2: Now the tumor being 2cm wide has started spreading to the nearby nodes.

Stage 3: A tumor becomes 5cm wide and may have spread to some of the lymph nodes.

Stage 4: A tumor now gets transformed into cancer and spreads across the distant organs, especially the liver, lungs, brain, or bones.

Risk Factors

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Dense breast tissue
  • A history of breast cancer or breast lumps
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Body weight
  • Radiation exposure
  • Hormone treatments

Diagnosis

When suffering from breast cancer, getting it detected early is the key. The earlier the disease gets diagnosed, the better is the outcome of the treatment. Once the disease is diagnosed, it can be treated by:

Surgery: If surgery is required, the diagnosis and treatment will depend on the type of disease, it may be:

  • Mastectomy: Simple mastectomy involves removing the lobules, ducts, fatty tissue, nipple, areola, and some skin.
  • Reconstruction: Post breast surgery, reconstruction may recreate the breast so that it looks just like the other breast.
  • Lumpectomy: Removing the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue around it can help in preventing the spread of cancer.

Other treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological treatment, hormone-blocking therapy. Hormone treatment can affect women’s fertility in future.

Preventive measures

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but certainly, there are some lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the risk of breast and other types of cancer. The measures are:

  • Getting enough exercise
  • Avoiding excess alcohol consumption
  • Maintaining a healthy body mass index
  • Eating a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables

If you notice any of such symptoms, visit a doctor today.

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