Breast cancer is a cancer that starts in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer may be invasive or noninvasive. Invasive means it has spread from the milk duct or lobule to other tissues in the breast. Noninvasive means it has not yet invaded other breast tissue. In rare cases, breast cancer can start in other areas of the breast. There are two main types of breast cancer:
Risk factors of Breast Cancer
- Ductal carcinoma starts in the tubes (ducts) that move milk from the breast to the nipple. Most breast cancers are of this type.
- Lobular carcinoma starts in the parts of the breast, called lobules that produce milk.
- Age and Gender: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. Most advanced breast cancer cases are found in women over age 50. Women are 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men.
- Family History and genes
- Alcohol use: Drinking more than 1 - 2 glasses of alcohol a day may increase your risk for breast cancer.
- Childbirth: Women who have never had children or who had them only after age 30 have an increased risk for breast cancer. Being pregnant more than once or becoming pregnant at an early age reduces your risk of breast cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): You have a higher risk for breast cancer if you have received hormone replacement therapy with estrogen for several years or more.
- Obesity: Obesity has been linked to breast cancer, although this link is controversial.
- Radiation: If you received radiation therapy as a child or young adult to treat cancer of the chest area, you have a much higher risk for developing breast cancer.
Over the course of a lifetime, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early breast cancer usually does not cause symptoms. This is why regular breast exams are important. As the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
- Breast lump or lump in the armpit that is hard, has uneven edges, and usually does not hurt
- Change in the size, shape, or feel of the breast or nipple. You may have redness, dimpling, or puckering that looks like the skin of an orange
- Fluid coming from the nipple -- may be bloody, clear to yellow, green, and look like pus
- Symptoms of advanced breast cancer may include: Bone pain, Breast pain, skin ulcers, swelling of one arm, weight loss
Men can get breast cancer, too. Symptoms include breast lump and breast pain and tenderness.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis:
- Breast MRI to help better identify the breast lump or evaluate an abnormal change on a mammogram
- Breast ultrasound to show whether the lump is solid or fluid-filled
- Breast biopsy, using methods such as needle aspiration, ultrasound-guided, stereotactic, or open
- CT scan to see if the cancer has spread
- Mammography to screen for breast cancer or help identify the breast lump
- PET scan
- Sentinal lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread
If your doctor learns that you do have breast cancer, more tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up and gives you some idea of what to expect in the future.