Breast Cancer: Things You Should Know About

Breast cancer is the most common out of all the cancers that women are diagnosed with. And while the majority of cases are detected in women, men have this type of cancer too. 

While the condition can be fatal, the good news is that early diagnosis can save a life. Therefore, detecting signs of breast cancer in women is the first step toward fighting the battle. In addition, one should know the symptoms of this type of cancer, its types, how it is cured, what its stages are, and how to detect it. 

We shall begin from scratch and talk about everything related to breast cancer here. 

What is Breast Cancer?

Medical science describes this type of cancer as the disproportionate development of cells in the breast region of the body. Although this type of cancer can occur in men and women, it is highly prevalent in women. 

This type of cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the US. Consequently, almost 30% of women diagnosed with cancer develop the disease in the breast. 

How Does Breast Cancer Start?

There are different regions in the breast where cancer can originate from. These are the duct that produces milk, lobules (glandular tissue), or any other tissue in the breast. 

So, what part of the breast are most cancers found at? The most common origin point of this type of cancer in women is the milk-producing duct. 

Where Does Breast Cancer Spread First?

Breast cancer has specific regions where it begins to spread first. These are inside the breast, the lymph nodes in the underarms, and the collarbones. These are the areas where you must check for the signs of this type of cancer in women. While it is restricted to this region, cancer is said to be still in its early stage. 

Beyond this point, it becomes metastatic cancer, meaning it begins to spread across the entire body. 

Let us discuss the symptoms of metastatic cancer and early-stage cancer.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Women?

There are defined signs of breast cancer in women that must be tracked to ensure a quick diagnosis. These are-

Early symptoms of this type of cancer-

  • A lump or thickening in a region of the breast
  • Changes in the skin above the breast, more like dimpling. 
  • A difference in how the breast appears in terms of shape and size
  • A portion of skin over the breast turning red
  • Red, pigmented area turning flaky, dry and begins to peel
  • A strange inverted nipple development

Symptoms of metastatic cancer-

The symptoms of metastatic cancer are divided based on regions in the body where the cancer has spread to-.

  • Lungs- chest pain, breathlessness, coughing. 
  • Bones- back pain, weakening of the bone (breakage on minor injury)
  • Brain- dizziness, speaking problems, vision problems, headaches, difficulty in walking, nausea, confusion, etc. 
  • Liver- loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, jaundice, etc.

Male breast cancer symptoms-

Symptoms are similar to that of symptoms in women and also include discharge from the nipple. 

What Does This Type of Cancer Look Like? 

Cancer lumps on the chest are among the most significant signs of breast cancer. And therefore, let us talk about this in more detail.

The early signs of this type of cancer in women come in with detecting a breast lump. Take a hint if you run your hand around your breast and discover a cluster or protrusion type development. Examine the area around it and cross-check for the signs listed above in the symptom section of this article. 

How Does a Cancer Lump Feel Like?

It usually feels like a hard mass under the skin with irregular edges and appears in the upper outer region of the breast. Consequently, it grows with time and is mostly painless. 

You might be puzzled with another question- does your breast hurt with cancer? The answer is that it usually doesn’t. 

Are All Lumps In Your Breast Cancerous?

Not all lumps in the breast are cancerous. In addition, certain lumps appear and disappear during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

The majority of breast lumps women experience– around eight out of ten– are not cancer. They are more likely to be cysts (sacs) or fibroadenomas (abnormal development that is not cancer). 

So How Do You Tell If A Lump Is A Cyst? 

Consider the following parameters for judgment-

  • A cyst is accompanied by a white, yellow, or green discharge. A tumor is not.
  • A tumor is firm. A cyst is not.
  • Tumors cannot move around under the skin. Cyst can.
  • A cyst is relatively more tender. A tumor is a hard mass. 

So, what kind of lumps are normal in breasts? If the development in your breast resembles the description of the cyst, it is not cancerous. Instead, such lumps might result from injury, changes in the breast, or some kind of infection. 

Different Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancers are of different types. Namely- 

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Inflammatory
  • Paget’s disease of the breast
  • Angiosarcoma of the breast
  • Phyllodes tumors
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  • HER2 status
  • Triple-negative
  • Metastatic

How can you test for signs of breast cancer in women at home?

If you doubt that you might have breast cancer, examine for the visible symptoms. You can refer to our section “what are the symptoms of breast cancer” above. Look at your breast before a mirror and check for any unusual appearance on the breast.

Directly and in the mirror, examine your breasts. Check out the following signs- 

  • Changes in skin texture such as dimpling, puckering, and indentations.
  • Redness or orange peel-like development on the skin
  • The contour of each breast. 
  • Check if the nipples have turned inward.

How is breast cancer cured?

There are different treatments for breast cancer depending on what stage of cancer a patient is at. The type of cancer is another factor that determines the treatment. Depending on the severity, some of the most important treatments for this type of cancer are- 

  • Biological therapy
  • Surgery(Breast-conserving, Mastectomy)
  • Chemotherapy(Anaridex 1 Mg, Adriamycin 10 Mg, Mamazol 2.5 Mg)
  • Radiation therapy(external beam radiation, internal beam radiation)
  • Hormonal therapy(Ribociclib, Everolimus, Abemaciclib, Palbociclib)

Can breast cancer be cured completely?

Yes. The cure rate for breast cancer, if diagnosed early, is very high. However, the case becomes more complicated if cancer reaches the metastatic stage, in which cancer starts spreading in the entire body.

How fast can breast cancer Spread?

The tumor to grow to a stage where it is detectable under physical examination takes around 2 to 5 years.

Research proves that breast cancer cells undergo at least 30 mutations before becoming detectable. One mutation takes 1-2 months on average. 

Is Stage 2 breast cancer curable?

Stage 2 breast cancer is still early-stage which means that the tumor exists in the breast or lymph node. Stage 2 cancer is curable through chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. 

Is breast cancer curable in the 3rd stage?

Stage 3 of breast cancer is when the condition has started spreading outside just the breast. It begins to spread throughout the body. Watch out for symptoms of metastatic breast cancer. 

This cancer is still curable through modern cut-edge technology. However, the success rate of treatment significantly drops. There are also higher possibilities at this stage for cancer to grow back after treatment. 

What Age Can You Get Breast Cancer At?

Breast cancer is more common in middle-aged to older women. Therefore, the condition is scarce among teenage girls. In addition, the most vulnerable category is aged between 45- and 65. Therefore, this group makes up 80% of the cases. Consequently, the second most susceptible category is 65 and above. 

Is This Type of Cancer Common in 35-Year-Olds?

Women aged 35 and less are less likely to diagnose this type of cancer. Moreover, this age group only makes up 2% of the total breast cancer cases. 

What is the survival rate for this type of cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK, the average survival rate of women after 1 or more years of diagnosis is 95%. However, the rate of survival depends on age, according to research. For example, women aged 45 to 80 have an 85% of survival rate on average.

Can you live a normal life post-cancer?

It is possible to go back to the normal way of pre-breast cancer life. However, you would have to adopt a new way of living to take precautions against any mishap in most cases. 

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Natasha Patel

Natasha Patel is the senior writer for the women’s health edition at CheapMedicineShop.com. She worked as a primary care provider before joining the writer’s panel of the blog. She is also trained in routine obstetrics and continues to practice in Oklahoma, where she lives with her family.