Cancer means any lump on the human body that exceeded the normal limits of human organs. The main characteristic of these lumps is that they grow and develop on human organs on their own. However, every type of cancer has its way of growth and development. Some of them keep the form of the organ on which they develop without causing serious damages. On the other hand, there are also tumors that grow much faster than normal cells causing harmful effects that, in most cases, can be fatal. Breast cancer falls into the latter category, and it is one of the leading causes of death in females.
Breast cancer develops when glandular cells of the breasts start to grow and replicate uncontrollably destroying the health tissue. This type of cancer occurs more often in women than men. The statistics are frightening- almost every third women after age 60 is diagnosed with breast cancer.
The risk is higher in women whose family members are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the reason why it is very important to know family history because genetic factors play probably the most important role in the inheritance of this disease.
Also, the risk of breast cancer increases in women who have their first baby after age 35, in women with late menopause as well as in women with physical injury in the breast area.
Breast cancer is usually painless in early stages, and the most common symptom is a painless lump in the breast. The lump is usually hard and, it has irregular edges and noticeable changes in size or shape. In most cases, the first symptoms include changes in the shape and color of nipples, discharge from nipples, swelling under the arm or irritation and rash on breasts.
Having at least one of the above-mentioned symptoms is cause for alarm and requires immediate check-up because if detected at an early stage, breast cancer can be successfully cured.
Every woman should perform breast self-exam at least once a month. Self-exam helps every woman to get familiar with the look of the breast and to notice every unusual swelling or lump.
The doctor evaluation includes the following tests: medical history and physical examination, ultrasound, mammogram, and biopsy. These tests will provide information about the changes in breast tissue and the distinction between a malignant and benign tissue mass, and finally testing the part of the removed tissue in the laboratory.
If detected at an early stage, a lumpectomy is one of the methods that is usually used. This method includes the removal of the lump without causing any damage to the breast.
Mastectomy is a method that is used when breast cancer is detected at an advanced stage. It means that one or even both breasts will be removed surgically to prevent cancer from spreading.