What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer starts in the tissue of your breast. Breast cancer develops when cells in the breast mutate (alter) and expand out of control, resulting in a mass of tissue (tumor). Breast cancer, like other cancers, has the ability to enter and expand into the tissue that surrounds your breast. It may also spread to other places of your body, resulting in the formation of additional tumors. It's known as metastasis when this occurs.
Breast cancer mostly affects women.
Breast cancer is the second most frequent cancer in women, behind skin cancer. Women over the age of 50 are more likely to be affected.
Men may get breast cancer, too, but it's uncommon. Male breast cancer affects around 2,600 males in the United States each year, accounting for fewer than 1% of total cases.
Transgender women are more likely than cisgender guys to acquire breast cancer. In addition, transgender guys are less likely than cisgender women to acquire breast cancer.
What is the average age of breast cancer diagnosis?
Breast cancer is most often diagnosed in women over 50, although it may strike anybody at any age.
Breast cancer affects which race the most?
Non-Hispanic white women, on average, have a slightly greater risk of breast cancer than women of any other race or ethnicity. Non-Hispanic black women are virtually as likely to get the illness as non-Hispanic white women. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women are statistically the least likely to acquire breast cancer.
What is the prevalence of breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer mortality among women in the United States, behind lung cancer. It's also the biggest cause of cancer mortality in women between the ages of 35 and 54.
What forms of breast cancer are there?
Breast cancer comes in a variety of forms, including:
Ductal cancer that has infiltrated (become invasive). This cancer begins in the milk ducts of your breast, bursts through the duct wall, and spreads to surrounding breast tissue. This is the most prevalent kind of breast cancer, accounting for around 80% of all occurrences.
In situ ductal carcinoma. Ductal carcinoma in situ, also known as Stage 0 breast cancer, is considered precancerous by some since the cells haven't moved beyond your milk ducts. This is a relatively curable issue. To prevent cancer from becoming aggressive and spreading to other tissues, timely treatment is required.
Lobular cancer that has infiltrated (become invasive). This cancer began in the lobules of your breast (where breast milk is produced) and has now spread to other breast tissue. Breast cancer accounts for 10% to 15% of all cancers in women.
Lobular carcinoma in situ is a precancerous disease that occurs when abnormal cells develop in the lobules of the breast. Although it isn't real cancer, this sign may suggest the possibility of breast cancer in the future. Women with lobular carcinoma in situ should get clinical breast examinations and mammography on a frequent basis.
Breast cancer that is triple-negative (TNBC). Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the most difficult types of breast cancer to treat, accounting for around 15% of all cases. It's known as triple-negative breast cancer because it lacks three of the indicators linked to other kinds of breast cancer. This complicates prognosis and therapy.
Breast cancer that is inflammatory. This cancer is rare and aggressive, and it looks like an infection. Redness, swelling, pitting, and dimpling of the breast skin are common symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer. Obstructive cancer cells in their skin's lymph veins cause it.
Paget's disease is a kind of breast cancer. The skin of your nipple and areola is affected by this malignancy (the skin around your nipple).
Is it possible for cancer to develop in other regions of the breast?
We normally refer to tumors of the milk ducts or lobules when we mention "breast cancer." Other forms of cancer may develop in other regions of your breast, although they are less frequent. These may include the following:
Angiosarcoma. This uncommon cancer starts in the cells that line the inside of blood or lymph arteries.
Tumors caused by Phyllodes. Phyllodes tumors, which start in the connective tissue, are uncommon. They're normally benign (noncancerous), but in certain circumstances they might be malignant (cancerous).
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
What are the indications and symptoms of breast cancer in its early stages?
The signs and symptoms of breast cancer differ from person to person. Breast cancer may show up in a variety of ways, including:
A change in your breast's size, shape, or contour.
A little lump or tumor that feels like a pea.
A lump or thickening that remains throughout your menstrual cycle in or near your breast or underarm.
A change in the appearance or feel of your breast or nipple skin (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed).
The skin of your breast or nipple is red.
An region on each breast that is unique from the rest of the breast.
A firm marble-like region under your skin.
Your nipple releases a blood-stained or clear fluid.
Some individuals are completely unaware that they have breast cancer. That is why mammograms should be done on a regular basis.
What factors contribute to the development of breast cancer?
When abnormal cells in your breast divide and proliferate, breast cancer develops. Experts, on the other hand, aren't sure what sets off this process in the first place.
According to studies, there are a number of risk factors that might raise your chances of having breast cancer. These are some of them:
Age. If you're 55 or older, you're more likely to get breast cancer.
Sex. Breast cancer is far more common in women than in males.
Genetics and family history If you have breast cancer-affected parents, siblings, children, or other close relatives, you're more likely to have the illness at some time in your life. About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are caused by single faulty genes handed down from parents to children, which may be detected by genetic testing.
Smoking. Tobacco use has been related to a variety of cancers, including breast cancer.
Use of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of some forms of breast cancer, according to research.
Obesity. Obesity raises your chances of getting breast cancer and having it come back.
Exposure to radiation. You're more likely to get breast cancer if you've received past radiation treatment, particularly to your head, neck, or chest.
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment that replaces hormones in the body. Hormone replacement treatment (HRT) users are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
There are a slew of additional variables that might raise your chances of getting breast cancer. To find out whether you're at danger, speak with your doctor.
DIAGNOSTIC ANALYSIS AND TESTS
How do you know if you have breast cancer?
A breast examination will be performed by your healthcare practitioner, who will also inquire about your family history, medical history, and any current symptoms. Tests to look for breast abnormalities will also be recommended by your healthcare practitioner. These tests may involve the following:
Mammogram. Changes or abnormal growths in your breast might be detected with these particular X-ray scans. Breast cancer prevention often involves the use of a mammogram.
Ultrasonography. Sound waves are used to obtain photographs of the tissues within your breast during this examination. It's used to detect lumps or abnormalities in the breast.
Scanning using positron emission tomography (PET): Special dyes are used in PET scans to highlight questionable spots. Your healthcare professional injects a particular dye into your veins and uses a scanner to capture photos.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that combines magnets and radio waves to create detailed pictures of the structures within your breast.
Your healthcare practitioner may conduct a biopsy of your breast tissue if the imaging tests reveal anything abnormal. The sample will be sent to a pathology lab for examination.
What are the stages of breast cancer?
The term "staging" refers to how much cancer is present in your body. It depends on a number of circumstances, including the tumor's size and location, as well as if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. The stages of breast cancer are as follows:
The illness is non-invasive at this stage. This indicates that it hasn't burst through your breast ducts.
Cancer cells have spread to adjacent breast tissue in stage I.
The tumor is less than 2 centimeters in diameter and has spread to underarm lymph nodes, or it is greater than 5 centimeters in diameter but has not migrated to underarm lymph nodes. Tumors at this stage range in size from 2 to 5 centimeters in diameter, and they may or may not impact adjacent lymph nodes.
Stage three. Cancer has spread beyond the place of genesis at this point. Although it has infiltrated adjacent tissue and lymph nodes, it has not migrated to other organs. Stage III breast cancer is often known as locally advanced breast cancer.
Stage four. Cancer has spread to other parts of your body, including your bones, liver, lungs, and brain. Breast cancer at stage IV is also known as metastatic breast cancer.
TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT
What is the treatment for breast cancer?
Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted medication therapy are all possibilities for treating breast cancer. The location and size of the tumor, the findings of your lab tests, and if cancer has spread to other regions of your body all influence what's best for you. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your specific requirements by your healthcare practitioner. It's fairly unusual for patients to undergo a mix of therapies.
Surgical treatment for breast cancer
The malignant section of your breast, as well as an area of normal tissue around the tumor, are removed during breast cancer surgery. Depending on your condition, you may need a variety of surgeries, including:
Lumpectomy. A lumpectomy, often known as a partial mastectomy, removes the tumor as well as a small margin of healthy tissue surrounding it. Some lymph nodes, such as those in your breast or beneath your arm, are usually removed as well. In the weeks after a lumpectomy, patients often get radiation treatment.
Mastectomy. Another alternative is to have your whole breast removed. Doctors may perform a nipple-sparing mastectomy in certain situations to save your nipple and areola (the dark skin around your nipple). Following a mastectomy, many women choose for either immediate or delayed breast reconstruction.
Biopsy of the sentinel node The sentinel node biopsy was created to avoid the needless removal of huge numbers of lymph nodes that aren't implicated by cancer since early identification of breast cancer has resulted in the lymph nodes being negative (for cancer) in the majority of instances. Doctors inject a dye that tracks to the first lymph node where cancer might spread to detect the sentinel lymph node. Other lymph nodes do not need to be removed if that lymph node is cancer-free. If one lymph node develops cancer, more lymph nodes may need to be removed. There may be more than one sentinel node found, but the fewer lymph nodes removed, the less likely you are to have arm swelling (lymphedema). A lumpectomy or a mastectomy may be used to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Dissection of the axillary lymph nodes. If cancer has spread to numerous lymph nodes, an axillary lymph node dissection may be performed to remove them. This entails the removal of a large number of lymph nodes under your arm (your axilla).
A modified radical mastectomy is a procedure in which a woman has her breasts removed Your whole breast, as well as your nipple, is removed during this treatment. The lymph nodes in your underarm are also removed, but your chest muscles are not. If desired, breast reconstruction is sometimes a possibility.
Mastectomy using a radical procedure. Unless your breast cancer has advanced to your chest wall muscles, this surgery is seldom used anymore. Your surgeon will remove your whole breast, nipple, underarm lymph nodes, and chest wall muscles during a radical mastectomy. People who get this operation may also opt to have their breasts reconstructed.
Breast cancer chemotherapy
Before a lumpectomy to decrease the tumor, your healthcare professional may suggest chemotherapy for breast cancer. It's sometimes administered after surgery to eliminate any leftover cancer cells and lower the chance of recurrence (coming back). If your cancer has gone beyond your breast to other regions of your body, your doctor may suggest chemotherapy as a first line of treatment.
Breast cancer radiation treatment
After a lumpectomy or mastectomy, radiation treatment is usually used to destroy any leftover cancer cells. Individual metastatic tumors that are causing pain or other issues may also be treated with it.
Breast cancer hormone treatment
Some kinds of breast cancer thrive by using hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Hormone treatment may either reduce estrogen levels or prevent estrogen from binding to breast cancer cells in certain circumstances. Hormone treatment is often used after surgery to lower the chance of recurrence of breast cancer. They may, however, use it prior to surgery to decrease the tumor or treat cancer that has spread to other regions of your body.
Breast cancer immunotherapy
Breast cancer cells are targeted and attacked using immunotherapy, which harnesses the strength of your immune system. The treatment is administered intravenously (through a vein in your arm or hand). Immunotherapy may be used in conjunction with chemotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer.
Breast cancer medication treatment with a specific target
Some medications can target particular cancer-causing cell features. If your breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body, your healthcare professional may offer targeted medication treatment. Monoclonal antibodies (such as trastuzumab, pertuzumab, and margetuximab), antibody-drug conjugates (such as ado-trastuzumab emtansine and fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan), and kinase inhibitors are among the most often used medications in the treatment of breast cancer (such as lapatinib, neratinib, and tucatinib).
How can I be certain that my cancer will be discovered before it spreads?
While there is no way to completely avoid breast cancer, there are several things you may do to lower your chances of being diagnosed at an advanced stage. Consider the following scenario:
Mammograms should be done on a regular basis. The American Cancer Society advises a baseline mammography at 35 years old, followed by a screening mammogram every year after that.
After the age of 20, you should check your breasts once a month. You'll become more aware of changes as you grow more comfortable with the curves and feel of your breasts.
Beyond the age of 20, get your breasts evaluated by a healthcare expert every three years, and every year after the age of 40. Clinical breast examinations may reveal lumps that are missed by mammography.
PROGNOSIS / OUTLOOK
What can I anticipate if I'm diagnosed with breast cancer?
If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will go through your treatment choices with you in detail. Because everyone's treatment and recovery will be different, they can advise you what to anticipate in your circumstance.
Is it true that breast cancer is fatal?
Early-stage breast cancer patients may typically effectively control their illness with therapy. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer go on to enjoy long and happy lives. Late-stage breast cancer, on the other hand, is more difficult to cure and may be deadly.
What is the breast cancer survival rate?
Breast cancer has a ninety percent five-year survival rate. This indicates that 90% of those diagnosed with the condition are still alive after five years. Breast cancer that has spread to neighboring regions has an 86 percent five-year survival rate, whereas metastatic breast cancer has a 28 percent five-year survival rate. Fortunately, as we understand more about the illness and create new and better management strategies, breast cancer survival rates are increasing.
It's important to remember that survival rates are simply estimates. They can't tell you how successful your therapy will be or how long you'll survive. Speak with your healthcare professional if you have particular questions regarding breast cancer survival rates.