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Cancer rates and fatalities are rapidly increasing worldwide, with a particularly noticeable surge in emerging economies. Breast cancer stands out as a significant contributor, constituting 25% of all female cancer cases globally in 2018. It holds the top spot as the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in over 150 countries and is the leading cause of female cancer-related deaths in 100 of those nations. In India, the age-adjusted incidence rate of breast cancer was 25.8 per 100,000 women, making it the predominant cancer among Indian females in 2012.
Commencing a breast cancer-free journey begins with a crucial first step: arming ourselves with the knowledge of key breast cancer symptoms. The most prevalent among breast cancer symptoms in women is a breast lumps, and it holds significant predictive value for malignancy. As a result, public health education campaigns emphasizing cancer symptom awareness have consistently centered around this particular symptom.
Various studies, both on a global scale and within India, have delved into various preventive and therapeutic interventions for breast cancer. While the complexity of multiple cell types at various stages makes breast cancer prevention challenging, studies often highlight the potential to mitigate modifiable risk factors through the promotion of a healthy diet, regular physical activity, moderation of alcohol consumption, and weight control. These measures are likely to contribute to a reduction in the long-term incidence of breast cancer.
Additionally, research indicates that delayed detection is linked to poorer survival outcomes, whereas early identification facilitates more effective and cost-efficient treatment. Delays in diagnosis are particularly pronounced among older women, often attributed to inadequate knowledge of symptoms and misconceptions surrounding breast cancer and its treatment. Therefore, this Medflick article aims to enhance awareness and understanding of breast cancer symptoms, signs, and risk factors among women.
Although breast cancer symptoms are commonly linked to the presence of a breast lumps, these can vary depending on the specific type of breast cancer. While a lump and skin changes in breast cancer is a prevalent symptom, it's crucial to recognize that it can occur without these also. Therefore, understanding the additional signs of breast cancer is essential. Typical breast cancer symptoms include:
There are certain factors that become the causes of breast cancer include:
Additionally, lifestyle factors that marginally increase the risk of this cancer in women and men (rarely) include:
Healthcare professionals identify breast cancer types and subtypes on the basis of breast cancer symptoms, visibility tests, and laboratory tests. This helps to customize treatment for optimal effectiveness with minimal side effects.
Common types of breast cancer include:
It originates in milk ducts and spreads to nearby breast tissue.
It arises in milk-producing glands (lobules), often extends to adjacent breast tissue.
Similar to IDC, this cancer commences in milk ducts but confines its spread to within the ducts.
Less prevalent types include:
It is an aggressive, swiftly spreading invasive cancer.
It is a rare, fast-growing cancer resembling a rash on the breast.
It is a rare cancer impacting the skin of the nipple, exhibiting rash-like characteristics, constituting less than 4% of all breast cancers.
The breast cancer has various subtypes also. Each subtype exhibits varying breast cancer symptoms. This categorization is based on receptor cell status, These receptors are proteins on or within cell surfaces. These receptors can interact with substances in the blood like hormones (estrogen and progesterone), thereby fostering the cancer growth. Determining the presence of estrogen or progesterone receptors in cancer cells aids healthcare providers in strategizing the treatment. The subtypes include:
Featuring estrogen receptors.
Displaying progesterone receptors.
Possessing both estrogen and progesterone receptors.
Lacking estrogen or progesterone receptors.
Exhibiting elevated HER2 protein levels, constituting 15% to 20% of all breast cancers.
The primary breast cancer complications include development of metastatic breast cancer, where the cancer spreads to various parts of the body (such as the brain, bones, liver, and lungs) and exhibits very detrimental breast cancer symptoms. Research indicates that approximately one in three women with early-stage cancer eventually develop metastatic breast cancer.
The choice of treatment depends upon the extent of the cancer spread and gravity or intensity of symptoms. It involves following procedures depending upon the severity and spread of the cancer:
It involves evaluating the size of the breast cancer and its potential spread to the lymph nodes under the arm. A CT scan of the chest, liver, and a bone scan is conducted to examine common sites to which this cancer may spread.
For localized cancer, the most extensive surgical option involves removing the breast and lymph nodes under the arm. When only part of the breast is removed, it is known as breast-conserving surgery or a lumpectomy. Radiotherapy is typically recommended following breast-conserving surgery. If the entire breast is removed, it is termed a mastectomy.
Before or after surgery, considerations about restoring breast shape may arise. Options include a breast prosthesis, a synthetic breast worn in a bra or under clothing, or breast reconstruction, an operation to create a new breast. Patients are encouraged to discuss these options with their healthcare team.
Chemotherapy may be employed to shrink the cancer before surgery, in cases of a high risk of cancer recurrence, or if the cancer returns post-surgery or radiation therapy. It is also considered for HER2 positive cancers or those unresponsive to hormone therapy.
Recommended after breast-conserving surgery to eliminate any undetected cancer, radiation therapy is also advised if lymph nodes under the arm were removed and there is a risk of cancer recurrence in that area. In some instances, radiation therapy may follow a mastectomy if there is a risk of cancer recurrence in the chest area.
Using drugs to lower female hormone levels, hormone therapy aims to halt or slow the growth of hormone receptor-positive cancer cells. The choice of hormone therapy depends on factors such as age, the type of breast cancer, and menopausal status.
Targeted therapy drugs focus on specific targets within cancer cells. Currently, these drugs are applicable only to HER2 positive breast cancer.
In certain cancer cases, discussions about palliative care may occur. Palliative care aims to enhance the quality of life by alleviating cancer symptoms. Apart from slowing cancer spread, palliative treatment can alleviate pain and manage other symptoms, often involving radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other drug therapies.
Read in Hindi: Breast Cancer Causes and Symptoms in hindi
The journey of breast cancer, while challenging, is marked by stories of resilience, hope, and triumph. In conclusion, understanding the diverse array of breast cancer symptoms is paramount for early detection and intervention. By recognizing signs beyond the common lump, such as changes in skin texture, nipple alterations, or persistent pain, individuals empower themselves to prioritize their health.
Let knowledge be the beacon guiding us toward proactive awareness and ultimately improving outcomes in the fight against breast cancer. Rely on Medflick as your trustworthy source for precise, current, and reliable information on breast cancer symptoms or any other health-related subjects. Your health and overall well-being deserve nothing less than well-informed and thoughtful guidance.
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