Breast cancer is a widely known and one of the most common diseases which occurs when cells within the breast mutate and transform into cancerous cells that rapidly multiply and form tumors.
It mainly occurs in females ages 50 and above, but on rare occasions it can result in younger females and males as well.
Breast cancer can originate in various regions of the breast. It’s crucial to recognize that the majority of breast lumps that form are not cancerous (benign) but rather these tumors, which are irregular growths, do not spread outside the breasts. Although they are not life-threatening, certain types of benign breast lumps can elevate a woman’s vulnerability to developing breast cancer in the future. A lump in the breast should be examined by a healthcare provider to determine whether it is benign or malignant (cancerous) and whether it might impact future cancer risk.
Types of Breast Cancer
Understanding more about the cancer, healthcare providers try to pinpoint which type of breast cancer it is, as there are six main types of breast cancer.
Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
This form of cancer begins in the milk ducts and spreads to a breast tissue that is close by. This form of breast cancer is known to be the most common type in the United States.
Lobular Breast Cancer
This type of breast cancer starts within the breast’s milk-producing glands, known as lobules, and oftentimes spreads into the neighboring breast tissue.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
Similar to IDC, this form of breast cancer originated within the milk ducts. However, what differentiates it is that DCIS remains within the milk ducts and does not spread further.
The three remaining types are ones that are less common and they include,
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)
This aggressive invasive cancer tends to spread at a faster rate compared to other forms of breast cancer.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
This rare and rapidly developing cancer is shown as a rash on the breast.
Paget’s Disease of The Breast
This type of rare cancer impacts the skin of the nipple and can resemble a rash. Paget’s disease of the breast accounts for less than 4% of all breast cancer cases.
Aside from the different types of breast cancers, it is also just as vital for individuals to know and understand the symptoms and causes of the disease.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Breast cancer can come in, in various ways, with some symptoms being quite distinctive while others might present as unusual areas within the breast. In some cases, breast cancer may not exhibit noticeable symptoms. However, when it does, the following signs may be present:
- Alteration in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- The presence of a mass or lump, which can be as small as a pea.
- A lump or thickening either in or near the breast or in the underarm region that persists throughout the menstrual cycle.
- Changes in the appearance or texture of the skin on your breast or nipple. This could include dimpling, puckering, scaliness, or inflammation, with a possible change in color to red, purple, or darker than surrounding areas
- The development of a firm, marble-like area beneath the skin.
- The occurrence of a discharge from the nipple, which may be blood-stained or clear.
Causes of Breast Cancer
Even though the exact causes of what may trigger a change are not identified, research has proven that there are various risk factors that may increase the chances of developing the cancer.
Age: Being 55 or older.
Obesity: Having obesity.
Sex: Women are much more likely to develop the condition than men.
Family history: If one’s parents, siblings, children, or other close relatives have had breast cancer, they could also be at risk of developing the disease.
Genetics: Up to 15% of individuals with breast cancer develop the disease due to inherited genetic mutations, with the most common mutations involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
Exposure to radiation: If a person has undergone prior radiation therapy, especially to the head, neck, or chest, there’s a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Smoking: The use of tobacco has been associated with various types of cancer, including breast cancer.