Breast cancer is a condition where the breast tissue plays host to uncontrolled, malignant growth of cells. Cancer can originate in different parts of the breast. Cancers which originate in the milk glands, in the milk-carrying ducts, in the fatty area, or the tissues connecting the breast are the most common type of breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
In a survey conducted by Public Health England, a Government health agency, it was found that less than 50% of the interviewed population could name a symptom of breast cancer other than a lump. While a lump can be a sign of breast cancer, there are other possible symptoms as well that one must be aware of.
- A lump in the underarms or near the breast
- Change in shape, contour or size of the breast
- Discharge of clear or blood-stained fluid from the nipple
- Changes to the appearance of the skin on the breast or near the nipple, which includes dimpling of skin or indentions on the breast.
- The formation of redness on the skin near the breast or nipple.
- The hardening of any area under the skin of the breast.
- Inverted nipple or change in position of the nipple.
To identify these symptoms early on, it is important for women to check their breasts regularly. As per a survey conducted by Breast Cancer Care, a UK based charity, it was noted that at least one-third women do not check their breasts regularly for symptoms of cancer.
Types of Breast Cancer
The type of breast cancer is dependent on the cells in the breast that are affected.
The common types of breast cancer include:
- Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ: It is non-invasive cancer, meaning that the cancer cells have been contained in the breast milk duct lining and do not spread.
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma: In contrast to non-invasive cancer, here, the abnormal cells invade the surrounding tissues after originating in the breast milk duct lining.
- Metastatic Breast Cancer: Classified as stage 4 Breast Cancer. In this type, the cancer cells spread beyond the breasts to other parts of the body, which include lungs, liver, brain and/or bones.
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer: An aggressive form of cancer that does not cause a distinct tumor formation. In this type, the abnormal cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels of the breast and block them.
- Other, rare type of breast cancers include Paget disease of the nipple, Phyllodes a tumor and Angiosarcoma.
Breast cancer is a complex disease, and like other forms of cancer, early identification and treatment can go a long way in saving the patient from irreversible damage. Since the breast is not an important organ for survival, it can be removed by surgery to contain the growth of the abnormal cells and to stop them from affecting other organs.
Patients can lead a normal, cancer-free life if the cancer is detected early and proper treatment and medication are administered.