Cancer develops when the body cells behave in an unrestrained way. According to some well-proven facts, Breast cancer develops in the ducts or lobules of the breast. It may be present as a lump, but this is not mandatory, so there are other breast changes that should be kept in mind and investigated. Breast cancer develops in either the ducts or the lobules. Lobules are the site where the milk is produced and ducts are the passage through which milk travels to the nipple. Cancer cells develop when the cell lining of the ducts or lobules becomes abnormal in size and shape and start multiplying in an uncontrolled way.
Doctors classify breast cancer primarily according to:
- Location: The part of the breast where it originates.
- Spread: Whether and where cancer has spread.
Doctors also refer to recurrent breast cancer, which means cancer that reappears after treatment.
Family history of breast and other cancers
Many facts suggest that a family history of breast cancer means that one or more close blood relatives have or had breast cancer. Some families have more cases of breast cancer than expected by chance. Sometimes it is not clear whether the family’s pattern of cancer is due to chance, shared lifestyle factors, genes passed from parents to children or a combination of all these factors.
People with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome may have a mutation of the STK11 (also known as LKB1) gene. This gene appears to normally function as a tumour suppressor gene. This disorder increases the risk of developing gastrointestinal, breast, ovarian and testicular cancers.
The start of menstruation is called menarche. Early menarche is when menstruation starts at an early age (11 or younger). Signs including irregular early periods mean that the cells are exposed to estrogen and other hormones for a greater amount of time. This increases the risk of breast cancer.
Oral contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progesterone can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among women who have used oral contraceptives for 10 or more years. The increased risk disappears after the woman stops taking oral contraceptives. However, current and recent (less than 10 years since last use) users have a slightly increased risk compared to those who have never used oral contraceptives.
Drinking alcohol increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Even low levels of alcohol consumption (just 1 drink per day) can increase a woman’s risk. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
One possible reason for this is that alcohol is thought to cause higher levels of estrogen. Alcohol may also lower levels of some essential nutrients that protect against cell damage, such as folate (a type of vitamin B ), vitamin A and vitamin C.
Smoking and second-hand smoke
Research shows that there may be a link between smoking and second-hand smoke and breast cancer. Recent studies have shown that active smoking is related to breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. There is also a link between second-hand smoke and breast cancer, particularly in younger, mainly premenopausal women who have never smoked. There is not enough evidence to show a link between second-hand smoke and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.
A lot of research is needed to determine the impact of active smoking and second-hand smoke on the rate of new cases of breast cancer, death rates and the relationship between genetics and the risk of smoking.
Some pieces of evidence and facts suggest that greater birth weight may increase the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. A greater birth weight means the foetus is exposed to more maternal estrogen, which may increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
- A lump, lumpiness or thickening in the breast or armpit – especially if it is in one breast only.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Skin changes such as dimpling, puckering or redness.
- Nipple inversion or discharge.
- A change to the nipple, like a rash, ulcer or itchiness.
- An unusual or persistent pain.
After diagnosis and determination of the stage of cancer you’re at, the doctor might recommend one or more of these treatments; Surgery, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy or Bisphosphonates to help aid primary breast cancer.
Other important facts are about the side effects after treatment that usually include hot flushes, fatigue, pain etc.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.