Breast cancer affects the tissues of the breast and it occurs in two forms. The first form, which is the most prevalent, is the ductal carcinoma. This form of breast cancer starts in the ducts that move milk from the breast to the nipples. Lobular carcinoma is the second type of breast cancer and it affects the lobules, which produce milk. In some rare instances, breast cancer can originate from other regions of the breast other than the lobules and the milk ducts. Estrogen has been found to enhance the growth of cancer cells in breasts. Ductal and lobular carcinomas may be invasive or non-invasive. Invasive forms of cancer spread from their original sites (ducts or lobules) to other regions of the breast. Non invasive forms remain in their original site. There are several risk factors for developing risk cancer.
Age and gender are the first on the list. Breast cancer occurs in older women (those aged 50 years and above) and is more prevalent in males than females. Family history of this form of cancer and genes are the other leading risk factors. Persons who have breast cancer in their lineage are likely to develop breast cancer when compared to their counterparts who have no familial history of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is usually asymptomatic. However, a lump in the armpit and a breast lump are the most common signs of a more advanced stage of breast cancer. This may be accompanied by changes in the shape and size of the breast or nipple. In addition, fluid may start oozing from the affected nipple. In men, breast lump, breast tenderness and pain are the most common signs. Advanced cases of breasts cancer are characterized by breast pain, bone pain, skin ulcers, weight loss, and swelling of the armpit.
There are various tests used to diagnose and monitor patients with breast cancer namely breast MRI, breast biopsy, breast breasts ultrasound, CT scan, PEP scan, mammography and lymph node biopsy. Upon taking the medical history of the patient, the clinician may request for the aforementioned tests. If any of the tests are positive, the clinician might be forced to request for other tests so as to evaluate whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the breast or body. There are three main treatment regimes for breast cancer: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical removal of the cancerous tissue. This however depends on type and stage of the cancer, sensitivity of the cancer to hormones and whether the cancer over expresses the HER2/neu gene.