Breast cancer is a malignant tumour that arises from the cells of the breast. It develops from the breast tissue. Though both women and men can get affected by breast cancer, generally it is more common in women in the United States. Let’s discuss and be aware of the important and mandatory breast cancer facts.
In The Article
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer:
Though breast cancer usually has no symptoms in its early stages, some of the warning signs that indicate the possibility of getting affected by breast cancer are:
- Breast pain or Nipple pain
- Swelling of all or part of a breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling of the skin
- A red scaly patch of skin
Other symptoms of breast cancer:
- Change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple
- Early menstrual period
- Late or no pregnancy
- Starting menopause after 50 years of age
- Any previous treatment using radiation therapy
- Inverted nipple
- A lump in the breast
- Bloody nipple discharge,
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Bone pain
Breast Cancer Treatments
Treatment for breast cancer depends on the stage of cancer. Treatment might consist of chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy or surgery. For larger cancers, or cancer cells that are growing more rapidly, doctors may advise for a systemic treatment with either chemotherapy or hormonal therapy before proceeding with surgery.
Surgery helps to remove a tumour and some of the surrounding healthy tissue during the operation. There are different types of surgery including Lumpectomy and Mastectomy
The stage of the breast cancer is a key factor in deciding the treatment. The stage is usually expressed as a number on a scale of 0 to IV.
- Stage 0 indicates non-invasive cancers that don’t spread to other parts of the body
- Stage IV indicates invasive cancers that spread to other parts of the body outside the breast
Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention knew as CDC is a leading national public health institute of the United States. It is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia of US. The main objective of CDC is to protect public health and safety. This is achieved through the control and prevention of disease.
CDC offers cheaper mammograms and education about breast cancer. CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) helps low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women across the US by providing them with breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
- Metastatic is the medical term for the cancer cells that spread to other parts of the body where it initially originated by way of the blood or lymphatic vessels
- It is the most advanced stage of breast cancer
- It is also called as Stage IV cancer
- This type of cancer spreads to other parts of the body beyond the breast most often to bones, lungs, liver or brain
- At this stage, the survival rate (around 22% for 5 years) will be very minimal
- Metastatic breast cancer can be a recurrent breast cancer
Axillary Lymph Nodes And Breast Cancer: All You Need To Know?
Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped glands throughout the human body. Axillary lymph nodes are also called as armpit (a hollow under the arm at the shoulder) lymph nodes. They are usually the first set of lymph nodes where breast cancer will spread. The number of axillary lymph nodes varies from one person to other. It ranges from 5 nodes to more than 30.
When cancer cells spread to the axillary lymph nodes, the node looks enlarged. In such cases, a doctor usually recommends removing the lymph nodes during the surgery to remove an originating tumour. As lymph nodes are responsible for draining lymph fluid, its removal might lead to some side effects after the surgery.
A breast cancer survival rate is better when the cancer is only in the breast, and the lymph nodes are not affected. People with enlarged axillary lymph nodes do not seem to have cancer at all. The staging of cancer depends on how much cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
Lowering Breast Cancer Risk
- It is recommended that aged women (who are 50 to 74 years old) with risk factors should undergo regular screening of mammogram once in two years.
- Women who are above 40 years of age can take the advice of the doctors on getting a screening of mammogram.
- The mammogram is a low energy x-ray to take the picture of the breast that can be used to check for breast cancer. This will lower the risk of death due to breast cancer. While mammograms do not find every breast cancer, it is very important for women to be aware of changes in their breasts and get to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer
- It has been found that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first direct-to-consumer test for breast cancer risk.
Can Risk Of Breast Cancer Returns Linger For Decades?
Risk of breast cancer’s return might remain for decades. It is found that women who are treated for early-stage breast cancer still face a considerable risk of recurrence up to 20 years later. Especially women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer often have recurrences many years down the line as such hormones help the cancer cells to grow again.
Many studies show that longer the duration of treatment (especially adjuvant hormone-based therapy for 5 years), reduced is the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. It is also found that women with no lymph nodes affected have very minimal % (around 19%) of recurrence while the women with 4 to 9 nodes affected has a higher chance (around 41%) of recurrence
23andme - Test For BRCA Breast Cancer Genes
- A breast cancer (BRCA) mutation is a mutation in either of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
- A BRCA gene test is a blood test to check for any specific changes (mutations) in genes that help to control the normal cell growth.
- Only very few doctor’s advice BRCA testing for a broader population.
- If there is a family history of breast cancer or if any of the family members have a known BRCA mutation, for such women, they are recommended to go for a test.
- Most of the women with BRCA1 and 2 mutations are likely to develop breast cancer.
- 23andMe is a genomics and biotechnology company. It is based out of Mountain View, California. The company is named after the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a normal human cell.
- The FDA – Food & Drug Administration has granted authorization to 23andMe to provide testing for the breast cancer-related genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- It helps to detect BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations with high accuracy and precision and provide reports that meet FDA standards for clinical and scientific validity.
- 23andMe enables people to buy BRCA test online and get results a few months later without meeting a genetic counsellor or a doctor, thereby helping the people to take control of their lives and mitigate risks on their own.
After Surgery Machine Treatments
Radiation therapy also called as radiotherapy might be given after the surgery. This therapy is used to completely destroy any mutated cells still left out in the breast or armpit area OR undetectable cancer cells even after the surgery. High energy rays are used as part of Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. This therapy affects only those cells in the parts of the body that is treated with the radiation.
Radiation for adjuvant therapy is mainly given to minimize the chance of breast cancer occurring again. Mostly it is given to patients after a lumpectomy or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy may not be needed for patients who have a mastectomy. This depends on the features of a tumour.
Some patients with Stage 0 cancer and most of the patients with Stage 1 or higher grade cancer those who had a lumpectomy will have radiation therapy as part of their treatment procedure.
US Breast Cancer Statistics
- Breast cancer is found to be more common in women than men
- It is about 100 times less common among men than women
- About 1 in 8 US women are likely to develop invasive breast cancer during the course of their lifetime, whereas for men it is about 1 in 1000
- Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began reducing since the year 2000 though it was in the increasing trend in the earlier two decades
- The incidence rates dropped by 7% from 2002 to 2003 alone
- This dip was partly due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women
- The overall decrease could be the result of advanced treatments, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness among the people
- It is found that the highest population of breast cancer survivors still alive five years after their diagnosis is in Northern America
- Breast cancer death rates are higher than those of any other cancer (besides lung cancer) for the women in the US
- For women under 45, it is found that breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women
- Around 85% of breast cancers occur in those women with no family history of breast cancer
- This occurred mainly due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of ageing instead of inherited mutations
- There are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the US as of January 2018
- This includes both women who are currently being treated and those women who have completed their treatment
- It is estimated that around 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are likely to be diagnosed in women in the US as of 2018