Breast cancer affects many women around the world. Cancer occurs when cells start dividing and multiplying uncontrollably. Typically, breast cancer forms in the lobules or ducts of the breast. Lobules are glands that produce milk, and the ducts carry milk to the nipple. Cancer can also appear in adipose and fibrous breast tissue. Every woman should know the early symptoms of breast cancer so that she can intervene quickly if necessary. Regular breast examinations are very important.
Breast cancer – symptoms
There are different types of breast cancer and they can cause different symptoms. However, many of them are common to each type of cancer. The hallmark symptoms of breast cancer include:
you feel a lump or lump in your breast that was not there before
red skin on the chest;
swelling of the breast;
scaly skin all over the breast or around the nipple;
nipple discharge, also stained with blood;
changing the shape of the breast;
enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit.
If you notice any of these symptoms it does not mean you have cancer, but you should check with your doctor. Breast pain can occur with hormonal changes or breast cysts.
Types of breast cancer
There are several types of breast cancer. They are divided into non-invasive and invasive. Invasive cancer has spread from the primary cells of the inception to other cells in the breast, and non-invasive cancer has not yet spread. Among breast cancers, we can distinguish:
Ductal non-invasive cancer – Only covers the ducts of the breast and does not spread further.
Non-invasive lobular carcinoma – it is placed in the cells that produce milk, and the cancer cells have not attacked the surrounding cells.
Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common breast cancer. It begins in the milk ducts and then attacks surrounding tissues and even other organs.
Invasive lobular carcinoma – initially develops in the breast lobules and infiltrates nearby tissue.
Less common types of breast cancer
Paget’s Disease of the Nipple – starts in the nipple ducts but attacks the nipple and breast skin as it spreads.
Leaf tumor – formed in the connective tissue of the breast. It is a very rare cancer. As a rule, they are mild.
Angiosarcoma – This is cancer that grows on the blood vessels or lymph vessels in the breast.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive cancer. It accounts for only 1-4% of all breast cancers. Cancer cells block the lymph nodes near the breasts and make the breasts swell. The breast is warm to the touch and is sometimes red. It can develop rapidly and metastasize.
Breast cancer – developmental stages
Depending on the development of cancer, several stages are distinguished – from 0 to 4.
Stage 0 – Cancer cells remain where they originated and have not spread to surrounding tissues.
Stage 1 – here we distinguish 2 subtypes:
1A – the tumor reaches a size of about 2 cm or less, does not spread to the lymph nodes.
1B – located in close lymph nodes and the tumor is less than 2 cm.
Stage 2 – here we also divide into subtypes.
2A – the tumor is smaller than 2 cm and has spread to a maximum of 3 lymph nodes or is 2-5 cm long, but no nodes are involved.
2B – the tumor is 2-5 cm long and extends to 1-3 nodes, or is more than 5 cm long, but not including nodes.
Stage 3 – This stage is divided into 3 subtypes.
3A – the tumor has spread to 4-9 axillary nodes, and the tumor is of any size.
3B – the tumor has invaded the chest wall or skin and may affect up to 9 nodes.
3C – cancer occurs in more than 10 lymph nodes.
Stage 4 – the tumor may vary in size, and its cells have spread to near and distant nodes, as well as to other organs.
To diagnose breast cancer, your doctor will perform a mammogram, but may also order a breast ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, or biopsy. Depending on the stage of your cancer, your doctor will take a different treatment.
Breast cancer – treatment
The most common choice for treating cancer is to have the tumor resected by surgery. Chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy are also common choices.
Several types of surgery can be used to remove breast cancer, including:
Lumpectomy – This surgery removes the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue, leaving the rest of the breast intact.
Breast Removal – During this procedure, the surgeon removes the entire breast. In a double mastectomy, both breasts are removed.
Sentinel node biopsy – This surgery removes several lymph nodes that drain from the tumor. These lymph nodes will be tested. If they don’t have cancer, you may not need additional surgery to remove more lymph nodes.
Axillary lymph node dissection – If the lymph nodes removed during a sentinel node biopsy contain cancerous cells, your doctor may remove extra lymph nodes.
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy
In radiotherapy, high-power beams of radiation are used to target and kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is a drug used to kill cancer cells. In some cases, doctors prefer to give patients chemotherapy before surgery. The hope is that the treatment will shrink the tumor, and then the surgery won’t have to be so invasive. Chemotherapy has many unwanted side effects, so discuss your concerns with your doctor before starting treatment.