03/12/2022
Breast Cancer

What is breast cancer? – 2022

breast cancer

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when breast cells, due to mutations, begin to divide uncontrollably and spread into surrounding tissues. These cells form a tumor, which can be detected by palpation of the breast or by mammography (X-ray of the breast).

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Breast Cancer – Causes,Types,Symptoms and Treatment Options – 2022

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Breast cancer occurs when breast cells, due to mutations, begin to divide uncontrollably and spread into surrounding tissues. These cells form a tumor, which can be detected by palpation of the breast or by mammography (X-ray of the breast).

The tumor can form in different parts of the breast. Most breast tumors develop from the epithelium of the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal carcinoma). Others develop from glandular cells (lobular cancer). There are also less common forms, including nonspecific cancer, sarcomas, and breast lymphoma.

The tumor can grow locally, spread through the lymphatic system to the lymph nodes (regional metastasis), and also spread throughout the body (distant metastasis).

Regional lymph nodes include axillary, intrathoracic, supra- and subclavian lymph nodes – on the same side as the determined tumor in the mammary gland.

The stage, prognosis, and treatment of breast cancer depend on the size of the tumor, involvement of regional lymph nodes, and the absence or presence of distant metastases.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

The presence of a dense tumor in the mammary gland, which does not decrease in different phases of the menstrual cycle, increases with time.

  • Nipple retraction
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Pain in the breast or nipple
  • Skin infiltration (skin that looks like orange peel) in the area of ​​the breast
  • The appearance of dense nodes in the axillary region
  • Ulceration of the skin in the area of ​​the breast
  • Swelling of the entire breast or part of it (even if a lump is not clearly felt)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Redness, peeling, or thickening of the skin on the nipple or breast

When to see a doctor?

If signs appear that are not associated with inflammatory processes (mastitis) of the mammary gland or breastfeeding, you should contact an oncologist. The doctor will discuss with you the disturbing symptoms, clarify a number of questions (family predisposition, gynecological history), examine the mammary glands and peripheral lymph nodes. If necessary, send for additional examination.

Causes of Breast Cancer

The true causes of breast cancer are unknown. Like any other type of cancer, breast cancer occurs when mutations occur inside the breast cells under the influence of various factors, and their number crosses a certain threshold, as a result of which the cells become malignant and form a tumor.

There are various factors that increase the risk of developing the disease. Many of them are associated with the effect on the body of estrogens – female sex hormones, or rather, with an increased duration of their effects.

Risk factors for breast cancer:

  • Early onset of menstruation – menarche (up to 12 years);
  • Late onset of menopause (over 55 years);
  • Absence of pregnancy and childbirth;
  • Have a family history of breast cancer;
  • Previously diagnosed breast cancer;
  • Obesity;
  • Smoking;
  • Alcohol abuse;
  • Diabetes;
  • Hormone replacement therapy for more than 10 years, associated with the treatment of menopause or prescribed for the purpose of
  • Contraception;
  • Radiotherapy to the chest area performed before the age of 30 for Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
  • Identified mutations in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes or other gene mutations.

 

The most famous of them are BRCA1 and BRCA2. These mutations are associated with a high probability of developing breast cancer (up to 70%), as well as other types of cancer: ovaries, fallopian (fallopian) tubes, pancreas and prostate in men.

You can suspect the presence of a mutation by family history:

  • Two or more cases of breast cancer in relatives of the 1st and 2nd lines (especially if diagnosed before the age of 50);
  • More than two cases of certain types of cancer (breast cancer, ovarian and fallopian tubes) in close relatives;
  • A case of breast cancer in a male relative;
  • Cases of breast cancer or ovaries in different generations.

If such cases were in your family history, a consultation with a medical geneticist is recommended to determine the risk of a hereditary tumor syndrome.

 

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