Breast Cancer is one of the most prevalent and common forms of Cancers. This condition largely effects women only, while in a very few rare cases it also affects certain men. Breast Cancer develops in the cells of the breast, wherein certain cells in the breast begin to grow rapidly and abnormally. This results in the accumulation of lumps or a mass of tissue.
The cancer largely begins in the milk producing ducts and is likely to metastasize to other parts of the body via the lymphatic system.
Advances in medical science a large number of cases are now being accurately detected and successfully treated; with a large number of women are able to survive the rigors of the treatment process to come back to normalcy post-treatment. Breast cancer is a relatively less-aggressive forms of cancer allowing for patients to find treatment and survive this condition.
Most common causes of Breast Cancer have been identified as lifestyle, hereditary factors, hormonal imbalances, exposure to radiation, late pregnancies and increasing age. Currently, research indicates that about 5 to 10% of the breast cancer cases are mutations passed on hereditarily.
The first symptoms of breast cancer usually appear as an area of thickened tissue in the breast or a lump in the breast or an armpit.
Other symptoms include:
pain in the armpits or breast that does not change with the monthly cycle
pitting or redness of the skin of the breast, similar to the surface of an orange
a rash around or on one of the nipples
discharge from a nipple, possibly containing blood
a sunken or inverted nipple
a change in the size or shape of the breast
peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple
Most breast lumps are not cancerous. However, women should visit a doctor for an examination if they notice a lump on the breast.
A doctor stages cancer according to the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
There are different ways of staging breast cancer. One way is from stage 0–4, with subdivided categories at each numbered stage. Descriptions of the four main stages are listed below, though the specific substage of a cancer may also depend on other specific characteristics of the tumor, such as HER2 receptor status.
Stage 0: Known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the cells are limited to within the ducts and have not invaded surrounding tissues.
Stage 1: At this stage, the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters (cm) across. It has not affected any lymph nodes, or there are small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes.
Stage 2: The tumor is 2 cm across, and it has started to spread to nearby nodes, or is 2–5 cm across and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage 3: The tumor is up to 5 cm across, and it has spread to several lymph nodes or the tumor is larger than 5 cm and has spread to a few lymph nodes.
Stage 4: The cancer has spread to distant organs, most often the bones, liver, brain, or lungs.