Among women, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed, not only women but men can get breast cancer too, though the chances are less than 1%. On average 1 in 7 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Cancer occurs when there are alterations in genes that regulate cell growth (known as mutations) that take place. Breast cancer is cancer that develops in breast cells.
October is represented as breast cancer awareness month as it is very important to spread awareness about warning signs and symptoms. Fortunately, breast cancer is curable if spotted early, once the cancerous cell begins to spread, the risk increases.
Initially, maybe there are no symptoms of breast cancer. Each type of breast cancer has a different set of symptoms. Let us have a glance at some of the common symptoms.
Breast cancer symptoms-
- Pain in the breast or pain in the nipple.
- A breast lump or thickening around the breast is often the initial symptom of breast cancer.
- Changes in size, texture, temperature, or color in the breast.
- Discharge from the nipple.
- Swelling or a lump under the collarbone or armpit.
- Mild pain in any part of the breast.
- Irritated or itchy breast.
- Ether hard or tender changes in touch.
- Flaky skin around the breast/nipple.
- Redness around the breast.
Types of breast cancer
1. Invasive ductal carcinoma- This condition happens due to the abnormal growth of cells in milk ducts. After this these cells spread and invade breast tissues, once that happens, the cancerous cells can spread to lymph nodes or the bloodstream. From there they can travel to different organs of the body resulting in metastatic breast cancer.
The symptoms are quite similar to that of breast cancer. Several tests are done to identify, and diagnose IDC. Some of the tests done are-
- Breast ultrasound
- Physical exam
- Digital mammography
Treatment of IDC depends upon the location and size of cancerous cells. If breast cancer is detected in its initial stages then it can be treated by-
- Hormone therapy
If the treatment is done at the right time 100% survival chances are there.
2. Invasive lobular carcinoma- This type of cancer develops in one of the glands that make milk and then spreads to the other breast parts.
The symptoms are similar to that of breast cancer. Some of the risk factors are-
- Age- As your age increases the risk of developing cancer relatively increases.
- Family history- Sometimes the disease passes down from generation to generation.
- Gender- Women are more prone to this disease but men can also get affected by it.
- Bodyweight- Women who are overweight have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Some tests are done by a doctor to diagnose it.
- Bone scan
- PET scan
- CT scan
After the tests depending upon the size of the tumor different types of treatment are done. 90% of all women with breast cancer have survival chances. But after the treatment, you can observe some side effects.
Side effects of the treatment-
- Loss of appetite.
- Heart damage
- Changes in nails
- Alteration in the menstrual cycle.
- Hair loss
- Problems in breastfeeding.
- Nerve damage
- Nausea and vomiting
- More infections
How can you prevent breast cancer?
The following precautionary steps can prevent breast cancer.
- Stay physically active, exercise reduces the chances of breast cancer.
- Women who suffer from obesity have a higher risk of getting infected as compared to women who have the ideal weight. Eat a healthy diet and maintain the ideal weight.
- Consult your doctor and get a screen test if you are 40+ every 2 years.
- Avoid alcohol if you have a habit of it and also stop smoking.
- Increase the intake of leafy green vegetables, berries, citrus fruits, beans, herbs, and spices like ginger, thyme, oregano, and turmeric.
When to seek medical help?
Generally, doctors recommend that every woman who has crossed the age of 40 should have a screen test even if you don’t have any symptoms.
But if you see warning symptoms in your body like pain in your breast, lymph node swelling, nipple discharge, nipple turning inwards, and a feeling of heaviness in your breast. If you have any of these symptoms you should immediately consult your doctor.
The doctor will recommend one or more than one types of exams like a visual exam, biopsy, manual exam, mammogram, MRI, and ultrasound.
According to your results, the doctor can start your treatment. Depending upon the cancer stage and how much it has spread in the body.
In India, 1 woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes. The cause of breast cancer is still not known but factors like lifestyle, eating habits, genes, family history, age, and menstrual history increase the risks,
Nearly 100% of women whose cancer is only in their breast live at least 5 years after diagnosis. If cancer has spread to other body organs, then the survival rate after diagnosis becomes 90%- 80%.
Awareness of the symptoms and the importance of screening is the key to the prevention of breast cancer and lowering the risk of mortality.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can feel scary, stressed, and even hopeless. But it is curable if you have any symptoms then consult your doctor and then start your treatment. Just stay positive and don’t lose hope!