BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Breast cancer originates in breast tissue. It occurs when breast cells mutate and grow out of control, creating a mass of tissue i.e., a tumor. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast including lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. 1
Breast cancer may spread and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also spread to other parts of the body and form new tumors. When this happens, it’s called metastasis.1
There are main types of breast cancer: 1
- Ductal carcinoma: It starts in the ducts of the breast and spread to surrounding tissue.
- Lobular carcinoma: Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is non-invasive breast cancer that grows in the lobules (the milk-producing glands at the end of breast ducts).
- Paget’s disease of the breast: This cancer affects the skin of the nipple and areola.
- Angiosarcoma and Phyllodes tumors: are less common types and form in lymph nodes and fats of the breast, respectively.
Special types of invasive breast cancer:
- Triple-negative breast cancer: It is an aggressive type of invasive breast cancer in which the cancer cells lack estrogens or progesterone receptors (ER or PR) and also don’t make any or too much of the protein called HER2. It accounts for about 15% of all breast cancers and can be difficult cancer to treat.
According to Globocan data 2020, in India, Breast cancer accounted for 13.5% (178361) of all cancer cases and 10.6% (90408) of all deaths with a cumulative risk of 2.81.2
Breast cancer symptoms and signs:3
Depending on the type of breast cancer, the symptoms of breast cancer may vary individually. Symptoms of Breast cancer may include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast even if no lump is felt
- Skin dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction/turning inward
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking, or thickened
- Nipple discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collar bone
Risk factors for Breast cancer:4
- Age: The risk for breast cancer increases with getting older. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
- Being overweight or having obesity after menopause.
- Genetic mutations: Women who have inherited changes to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are at higher risk of breast cancer.
- Reproductive history: Starting menstrual periods before age 12 and menopause after age 55 expose women tothe risk of getting breast cancer.
- Having dense breasts: Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue due to these breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.
- Personal history/non-cancerous breast diseases
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy
- Exposure to industrial chemicals raises the risk of breast cancer
Cancer-related pain- Cancer can cause pain all on its own, as tumors grow and take over formerly healthy areas of the body. Cancer can put pressure on organs, nerves, and bones, causing aching or sharp, stabbing pain. Some types of cancer even secrete certain chemicals that can cause painful sensations.
Bone complications- Breast cancer commonly spreads to the bones, which can lead to complications. These complications are often caused by bone resorption, a normal process of breaking down bone.
Higher risk of getting additional tumors- A person’s chance of developing additional tumors, such as lung cancer, Liver cancer, and Brain cancer, is higher if they have chronic breast cancers.
Cancer prevention is an action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. Making changes in daily life may help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Choose a healthy diet- Breast cancer risk may be lower in women who follow a Mediterranean diet that includes extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts are the main components of the Mediterranean diet.
Maintain a healthy weight- Obesity increases the likelihood of most cancer types. Getting enough exercise can reduce your risk of developing several cancers. Any level of physical activity has various health benefits, including maintaining weight.
Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy- Breast cancer risk may rise with multiple hormone therapy. Utilize hormone therapy at the lowest dose and for the shortest amount of time possible to lower the risk of breast cancer.
Get regular medical care-Regular self-examinations and cancer screenings may increase the probability of finding cancer early when treatment is most likely to be effective.
Treatment for Breast cancer:7
Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. Women with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment that follows:
Surgery: An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
Chemotherapy: Using special medicines to shrink or kill cancer cells.
Hormonal therapy: Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
Biological therapy: Works with the body’s immune system to help it fight cancer cells or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
Radiation therapy: Using high energy to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort.
Every year, October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). A primary goal of breast cancer awareness month is to inform the public about the various types of breast cancer, their risk factors, preventative measures, recent advancements in treatment, and the current survival rate of those who have it. Since breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, it has become a serious issue everywhere in the world, including in India. As a result, educating individuals about breast cancer and its prevention becomes important.8
- Breast Cancer. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/3986-breast-cancer. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- Breast cancer in India: Present scenario and the challenges ahead. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35433294/. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-cancer-signs-and-symptoms.html. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer? Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- Possible Complications of Advanced Breast Cancer. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/stage-iv-breast-cancer-possible-complications#. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- Breast cancer. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352470. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- How Is Breast Cancer Treated? Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/treatment.htm. Assessed on 28th September 2022.
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Available at: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month/. Assessed on 28th September 2022.