The term breast cancer has been defined as the cancer that is caused due to development of malignant cells in the breast. These malevolent cells emerge in the lining of the ducts of the breast (ductal epithelium) or milk glands and this malignancy is known as breast cancer. Read more about how to self examine your breasts for cancer
These cancer cells have the ability to spread throughout the human body or invade the normal tissues locally and this process is popularly known as metastasis. Breast cancer in majority of cases is seen in the milk-producing glands of the breast tissue.
Related Link → Natural Treatment of Breast Cancer
Types of Breast Cancer
The various types of breast cancer that may occur are divided into the following types as per their symptoms and these are:
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) — It is a type of non-invasive (breast cancer that has spread beyond the lobules or ducts of the breast into the breast tissue) breast cancer that is limited to the lobules of the breast.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – DCIS is a type of non-invasive breast cancer that is limited to the lobules of the breast.
- Early breast cancer - This non-invasive breast cancer is limited to the breast area and had not yet spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit or the breast.
- Inflammatory breast cancer - This type of breast cancer is very rare form of invasive breast cancer affecting the blood vessels within the skin of the breast that causes the breast to be inflamed and red in color.
- Paget's disease of the nipple - It is also a rare type of invasive breast cancer that affects the nipple and the areas around the nipple or the areola.
- Secondary breast cancer - This type of breast cancer is also known as Metastatic or advanced breast cancer in medical terms. An invasive breast cancer spreads to other areas or parts of human body from the breast.
- Locally advanced breast cancer - This is another type of invasive breast cancer that spreads to the nearby areas of the breast - for instance the chest wall.
Symptoms of breast cancer
The symptoms of breast cancer are difficult to be observed by person suffering from breast cancer. The breast cancer at first seems to asymptomatic or symptomless. For instance, a lump in the breast may be too small to be noticed by you and any unusual changes may be quite difficult to get attention.
However, the first indication of breast cancer is a new mass or lump that a person or her/his physician may feel in the breast region. The chances that a person is having symptoms of breast cancer are a lump that is hard, painless and having uneven edges. In some cases of breast cancer, the breast cancer symptoms may soft, round and tender.
The American Cancer Society prescribes the following symptoms related with breast cancer and these are as follows:
- Pain in the breast,
- The nipple of the breast turning inward or any pain in the nipple,
- Any part or all of the breast developing swelling,
- Thickening, redness and scariness of the breast skin or the nipple,
- Any discharge in the form of liquid/pus other than milk from the breast,
- Any lump in the underarm area.
These above-mentioned symptoms of breast cancer may also relate to signs that may not be related with cancerous conditions and may actually be linked to a cyst or any infection. However, the final diagnosis about these symptoms is to done under the supervision of a physician or a surgeon/oncologist.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
The breast cancer diagnosis is an important area that needs to be taken care of by both the physician and the patient. The process of breast cancer diagnosis on the part of person or patient who is likely to have breast cancer involves self breast examination as a monthly routine and visiting the physician in case of any unusual changes in the breast.
Women who are above 40 years of age needs to have an annual mammogram (X-ray photograph of the breast) and a physical exam by the physician. Early diagnosis of breast cancer will increase the survival rate of the women suffering from breast cancer and the disease itself can be nipped from the bud.
The responsibility of the physician starts when the concerned patient is diagnosed of breast cancer and the physician then orders various tests on the breast tissues so that a report or profile is created to know about the breast cancer symptoms and its anatomy.
These tests are conducted after the removal of some of the tissue samples from the breast area that is popularly known as initial biopsy in medical terms. These tests may also be conducted after doing mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast) or lumpectomy (surgical removing of the tumor). The reports from these tests after the diagnosis of breast cancer may take some weeks or even months. All these reports form a total pathology report of the concerned patient.
This pathology report is very important for the patient as it forms the basis upon which the physician needs to make decisions about the best treatment choices available for the patient.
Treatment options for breast cancer
The various treatment options that are available for a patient diagnosed of breast cancer include any one or a range of options that depend upon various factors such as cancer stage, age of the patient, pathology, psychology factors etc. and these treatment options are:
- Surgery in the form of mastectomy, lumpectomy, lymph node dissection, breast reconstruction, prophylactic surgery,
- Chemotherapy - a type of systemic therapy by using chemotherapy medicines to destroy and weaken the cancer cells in the body,
Hormonal therapy — it involves the usage of hormonal therapy medicines by the women patient who is diagnosed of breast cancer. This treatment option is useful only in those cases where the concerned patient is suffering from hormone - receptor - positive breast cancer. The hormonal therapy medicines include the estrogen receptor down regulators, aromatase inhibitors, estrogen receptor down regulators etc.
Radiation therapy — it is one the most common and successful treatment options available in the treatment of breast cancer. Undergoing radiation therapy is known to have reduced the impact of breast cancer by about 70%.
The radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses the X-rays to destroy the cancer cells that may be left in the breast after the patient undergoes lumpectomy. This therapy also helps in reducing the risk of breast cancer from reemerging in the breast.
- Complimentary/holistic/natural therapies — Other treatment options of breast cancer include holistic therapies, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, art or music therapy, dietary therapy and other alternative therapies other than allopathic treatment.