Things you need to know about Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a life-threatening and the most common cancer affecting women. In India, 162,468 cases of breast cancer were reported, and out of those, 87,090 deaths occurred in the year 2018(more than 50 % of cases were detected).
Breast cancer is a disease in which the cells in the breast mutate uncontrollably. It can appear in any part of the breast and can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. It is known as metastasizing when breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Early detection remains a key element of breast cancer control, as at this stage, women can undergo diagnosis and recover. When cancer is detected late, there is little chance of recovery and patients and their families are only given palliative care to alleviate their suffering.
Breast health awareness is an important part of staying healthy. Most women experience some form of breast change, and it’s critical to understand your normal breasts and keep an eye out for changes.
Types of Breast Cancer
There are two most common types of breast cancer, which are:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma: This occurs when cancer cells spread beyond the ducts and into other areas of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or mutate, to other parts of the body.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: In this type, cancer cells spread from the lobules to the nearby breast tissues. The invasive cancer cells are capable of spreading throughout the body.
Other less common types of breast cancer include Paget’s disease, mucinous, medullary, and inflammatory breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The symptoms of this disease are:
- A lump or mass in the breast
- Swelling and pain in the breast
- Redness of the nipple and breast skin
- Discharge other than breast milk
- If cancer spreads to lymph nodes surrounding the collarbone or beneath the arm, it can leave a lump there
Causes of Breast Cancer
The exact cause of breast cancer still remains unknown. Yet researchers think that rapid urbanization, change in lifestyle and inadequate health facilities can boost the chances of acquiring it. Some of the causes may include:
- Reproductive history: A woman with a reproductive history of early menstrual periods before the age of 12 and menopause beginning after the age of 55 is exposed to hormones for longer periods, increasing their risk of breast cancer.
- Genetic mutations: Inherited changes (mutations) to specific genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who inherit these genetic changes are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer.
- A family history of breast or ovarian cancer: A woman is more likely to develop breast cancer if she has a sister, mother, or a first-degree relative who has had breast or ovarian cancer on either side of the family.
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy: Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before the age of 30 have a higher risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
- Physical inactivity: Women who are not physically active are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Being overweight or obese after menopause: Women who are overweight or obese after menopause have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who are normal weight.
- Taking hormones: Some forms of hormone replacement therapy, especially those containing both estrogen and progesterone, used during menopause can increase the risk of breast cancer if used for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives or birth control pills have also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Reproductive history: Having your first pregnancy after the age of 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can all increase your chances of developing breast cancer.
Other risk factors for breast cancer, according to research, include smoking, exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, and changes in other hormones caused by night shift work.
Women are suggested to take the following precautions:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Maintain their weight
- Reduce alcohol consumption and quit smoking
- Take vitamin D and calcium supplements
- Exercise regularly (at least for an hour)
- Get a mammogram every year (mandatory for women above the age of 40)
- Conduct a self-examination every month
Treatment options for Breast Cancer:
Breast cancer can be treated in a number of ways. The treatment is determined by the type of breast cancer and the extent to which it has spread. Breast cancer patients often receive more than one type of treatment.
Surgery: A procedure in which doctors remove cancerous tissue.
Chemotherapy: In chemotherapy, special medications are used to shrink or kill cancer cells. The drugs can be pills that you take or medicines that are injected into your veins, or both.
Hormonal therapy: Prevents cancer cells from acquiring the hormones that make them grow and spread.
Biological therapy: Uses your body’s immune system to aid in the fight against cancer cells or to alleviate side effects from other cancer treatments.
Radiation therapy: Involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.
A patient’s and their family’s experience with cancer treatment can have a significant psychological and financial impact that should be considered when developing programs to improve access and coverage.
We understand how troubling it can be to witness the effects of a terminal illness on a loved one. Apollo HomeCare provides expert palliative care at home with one-on-one support from a compassionate caregiver who is experienced in providing exceptional care, so you and your family can make the most of their time together. This could include visits from a variety of service providers on an as needed or regular basis.