Symptoms and Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

The most common invasive cancer and the second-highest leading cause of death in women, breast cancer strikes women all around the globe. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 268,600 women have been diagnosed with invasive and around 62,930 with non-invasive breast cancer in 2019. The death toll to breast cancer for 2019 stood at 41,760. However, since 1989, advancement in the treatment of breast cancer has seen the death rates drop substantially. Currently, the chances of women dying of breast cancer stand at 1 in 38. Awareness of symptoms and regular screening has been one of the causes for the reduction in mortality.

What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

The initial symptoms usually appear as thickened tissue in the breast area and/or a lump in either the breast or the armpit. There are other symptoms which may or may not appear and include redness or pitting of the skin of the breast, pain in the breast or armpit that remains even after the monthly cycle, rash around or on the nipple, discharge with or without blood from a nipple, nipple inverted or sunken, changes in the size or shape of the breast, and flaking, scaling or peeling of the skin on the nipple or breast, etc. It is important to understand that not all lumps on the breast are cancerous. However, should there be a lump, it is better to visit a doctor and get it examined.

What are the Causes of Breast Cancer?

A women’s breast, post-puberty, consists of connective tissue, fat, and lobules. Lobules are tiny glands that produce milk and number in their thousands. The milk produced is carried by tiny ducts to the nipple. When the cells start to multiply faster than required, they take up nutrients and energy, depriving other cells around them. The article explains how this excessive cell growth causes cancer. Usually, the onset of breast cancer takes place in the inner lining of the milk ducts or the lobules and can spread to other parts from there.

Factors That Could Cause Breast Cancer

Some of these risk factors include:

Age: Age is an important factor that determines the onset of breast cancer. The risk increases with age. For instance, for a 20 years old person, the risk of being diagnosed for cancer in the next ten years is about .06 percent. This figure may reach up to 3.84 percent in a 70 years old woman.

Genetics: Women carrying mutations belonging to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes showcase a higher risk for contracting ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or both of them. These genes are generally inherited in patients from their biological parents. It has been established that the mutations present in the TP53 gene are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. In case someone close in the family is suffering from or had a history of breast cancer, then the risk of breast cancer increases in the patient. Therefore, it is important for the close relatives of those suffering from breast, ovarian, peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer to undergo examinations periodically.

History of breast lumps or cancer – Women with a previous history of breast cancer are at a higher risk of contracting it again. Besides, the presence of any kind of noncancerous breast lumps escalates one’s risk of being diagnosed for breast cancer in the future. It is equally important for people with a history of the fallopian tube, peritoneal cancer, ovarian, or breast cancer to consult their health practitioners regarding genetic tests.

Denser tissues in the breast – Women having denser tissues in the breast are at a higher risk of being diagnosed for breast cancer.

Breastfeeding and exposure to estrogen: It is believed that breastfeeding is an important factor in the incidence of breast cancer. Women who have been breastfeeding for twelve months or more find themselves at a lower risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, prolonged exposure to estrogen paves the way for higher risks of breast cancer. This is because of women starting their periods earlier on in life or entering into their menopause stage much later in comparison to others. The estrogen level is found to be at high levels in between these two stages in a woman’s life.

Weight: Women who have a tendency of gaining weight or become overweight after entering into their menopausal years, remain at high risk of developing cancer. In all probability, this can be attributed to the increase in estrogen levels at this stage of life. Consumption of extra quantities of sugar also contributes to the risk of breast cancer.

Consumption of alcohol: Drinking excessive alcohol also contributes to the incidence of breast cancer. It has been found that women who consume alcohol are at a higher risk of contracting breast cancer in comparison to those who don’t. The probability of breast cancer increases in heavy drinkers.

Exposure to radiation: Patients exposed to radiation in the course of treatment for other types of cancer may also develop breast cancer in the future.

Hormone treatment: Prolonged and regular use of oral contraceptives is believed to add to the risks of breast cancer. Estrogen-progesterone therapy (EPT), as well as other hormone replacement therapy (HRT) methods, are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

Get Yourself Diagnosed for Breast Cancer

Some several tests and procedures are available for early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. These include a breast examination, mammogram, breast ultrasound, sample tests of breast cells through biopsy, Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and so forth. If locally available to you, you can look into booking a private MRI scan that doesn’t require a doctor’s referral or recommendation. Your health practitioner may advise other procedures and tests in accordance with your health situation. It is important to go through the basic tests for the detection of breast cancer to alleviate your concerns at the earliest. Early diagnosis leads to timely treatment and nips the problem while it is in its nascent stage.


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