October 2, 2022

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BREAST CANCER: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Everything you need to know about Breast Cancer | Dr Vikas Goswami

In women, breast cancer is the most prevalent invasive cancer. Additionally, it is the leading cause of female cancer fatalities. Cancer is brought on by alterations, or mutations, in the genes that control cell proliferation. The cells’ mutations enable uncontrolled cell division and multiplication. Cancer that starts in breast cells is called breast cancer. 

Usually, breast cancer develops in either the ducts or the lobules. The milk-producing lobules and the ducts that carry it to the nipple are two different types of glands. The fatty tissue and connective fibrous tissue in your breast are susceptible to cancer. 

Often, unchecked cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes and infiltrate neighboring healthy breast tissue. Once cancer reaches the lymph nodes, it has a route to other bodily regions. 

Thankfully breast cancer survival rates have drastically increased due to improvements in Hong Kong breast cancer screening and treatment. Awareness of the symptoms and the necessity for screening are vital to lowering the risk of breast cancer mortality.

Symptoms of breast cancer

An area of thickened tissue, a lump, or a mass in the breast, armpit, or other location is frequently the first sign of breast cancer. In many circumstances, these bumps are painless. Nipple or breast pain that seems to be related to a person’s menstrual cycle is possible. Breast cancer pain usually comes on gradually. Anyone who feels breast pain should see a doctor, especially if it is severe or persistent.

Additional signs include of breast cancer include: 

  • Breast or armpit pain that doesn’t go away even after the menstrual cycle.
  • Color alterations such as redness in the breast skin or pitting, resembling the orange’s surface,
  • A rash near or on the nipple
  • Discharge from a nipple that could be bloody
  • A sunken or twisted nipple
  • An abnormal change in the breast’s size or form
  • Flaking, peeling, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple.

The majority of breast lumps do not have cancer. However, if you discover a breast lump, you should get it examined by a medical expert.

Causes of breast cancer

Thousands of lobules, connective tissue, and fat make up a female’s breasts after puberty, and these are little glands with the ability to create milk. The milk travels through tiny ducts in the direction of the nipple.

DNA damage or genetic alterations are the causes of breast cancer development. These may be linked to inherited genetic flaws, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, estrogen exposure, or cancer-causing genetic abnormalities.

When a person is healthy, their immunity fights against abnormal growths or DNA. This does not happen to people who have cancer. As a result, breast tissue cells start to proliferate uncontrolled instead of dying as they usually would. 

This uncontrolled cell development creates a tumor that robs the area of the necessary energy and nutrients. Breast cancer typically develops in the inner lining of the milk ducts or the lobules that supply them with milk, and it may then spread to different body regions.

Stages of breast cancer

The tumor size and whether it has advanced to the lymph nodes or other places of the body are factors that a doctor considers when determining the cancer stage. Breast cancer is staged in a variety of ways. Stages 0 through 4 are included in one, and each stage has a subcategory. Substages can provide details about a tumor, such as whether it has HER2 receptors. Each of these critical phases is described below.

  • Stage 0: Ductal carcinoma in situ is a different name for stage 0. Only the ducts contain the malignant cells; they have not invaded the tissues around them.
  • Stage 1: The tumor can be as large as 2 centimeters (cm) in diameter. Either no lymph nodes have been impacted, or some lymph nodes contain a few cancerous cells in small groupings.
  • Stage 2: The breast tumor is between 2 and 5 cm in size and has either begun to spread to lymph nodes nearby or is less than 2 cm in size.
  • Stage 3: refers to tumors larger than 5 cm in diameter and have spread to a few lymph nodes or tumors smaller than 5 cm in diameter.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has made its way to other organs, most frequently the bones, liver, brain, or lungs.

Risk elements for breast cancer

The following elements, some of which may be avoidable, increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. They include age, genetics, gender, dense breast tissue, history of breast cancer, estrogen exposure, obesity, radiation exposure, hormone treatment, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Diagnosis and treatment

Hong Kong breast cancer screening or when a patient reports symptoms may lead to a doctor’s diagnosis of breast cancer. The diagnostic processes and tests that the doctor can use are described in the sections below.

Breast examination

One must examine the breasts for lumps and other potential cancer signs. The subject may have to sit or stand with their arms in various places during the examination.

Imaging tests

  • Mammogram: Breast cancer can be found using several scan methods, such as: During the early stage of breast cancer screening, doctors frequently utilize a mammogram, a particular sort of X-ray. Images that are generated by it may depict lumps or anomalies. Usually, a doctor will recommend further testing if there are any indications of a potential issue.
  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to assist a doctor in distinguishing between a solid mass and a cyst filled with fluid.

Biopsy

A tissue sample must be removed and sent to a lab for examination for a biopsy. Results reveal whether the cells are malignant and, if so, which form of cancer has arisen. The outcomes may even tell whether the malignancy is hormone-sensitive.

The primary forms of breast cancer treatment are:

  • Radiation treatment
  • Surgery
  • Targeted medication therapy or biological therapy
  • Hormone treatment
  • Chemotherapy

conclusion

Breast cancer is still the primary cause of cancer death among women. Nevertheless, the 5-year survival rate is high, and the diagnosis rate has been steadily dropping for over three decades, thanks to screening and support programs like the Hong Kong cancer fund.