Breast Cancer

Last updated date: 22-May-2023

Originally Written in English

Breast Cancer

Cancer develops when changes in genes that control cell development, known as mutations, occur. Mutations allow cells to divide and replicate in an uncontrollable manner. Breast cancer is thus a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the breast. This cancer usually develops in the lobules or ducts within the breast. The glands that create milk are lobules, while the ducts are responsible for transporting the milk from the glands to the nipple. 

Also, breast cancer can develop within the fatty tissue or fibrous connective tissue. Uncontrolled cancerous cells usually penetrate the healthy breast tissue and might spread to lymph nodes beneath the arms. These lymph nodes are a major passage that allows the malignant cells to travel to various body parts. 


Types of Breast Cancer 

The following are the most prevalent types of breast cancer; 

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma

This form of cancer usually begins in the breast milk ducts. It subsequently breaks through the duct's wall and invades the nearby breast tissue. Generally, invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for up to 80% of occurrences. 

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ

This is precancerous ductal carcinoma or ductal carcinoma at stage 0. The term "in situ" refers to a malignancy that has not yet spread away from its original location. The illness is limited to the milk ducts in this case and has not spread to surrounding breast tissue. Ductal carcinoma in situ can progress to aggressive malignancy if left untreated. Fortunately, it’s usually a curable condition. 

  • Invasive lobular carcinoma

This usually starts in the breast lobules, where breast milk production occurs, but it has moved to the breast's nearby tissues. This form of breast cancer accounts for up to10 to 15 percent of all cases. When it comes to diagnosis, mammograms may make it more difficult to detect. 

  • Lobular carcinoma in situ

This is a breast cancer sign that exclusively exists in the lobules. It's not a true malignancy, although it's an indication that you're at a higher risk of getting breast cancer in the future, in one or both breasts. Women who have lobular carcinoma in situ should frequently undergo clinical breast examination and mammography. 


Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer might not show any symptoms during its early stages. But even if a tumor is too small to feel, mammography might reveal an anomaly. On the other hand, the early indicator of cancer is normally a new lump within the breast that wasn't present before. Nonetheless, not all lumps are cancerous. 

Breast cancer can manifest itself in a variety of ways, depending on the type. Although most of these breast cancer symptoms are alike, some are distinct. The following are thus the common signs and symptoms; 

  • A newly developed breast lump or thickening of the tissue that feels different from nearby tissue
  • Breast discomfort
  • Pitted, red skin on the whole breast
  • Swelling in a section or the entire breast 
  • A secretion from the nipple that isn't breast milk
  • A bloody discharge coming from the nipple
  • Scaling, flaking, or peeling of the nipple or breast skin
  • A rapid, inexplicable change in the breast form or size
  • Nipple inversion 
  • Alterations in the appearance of the breasts' skin 
  • A bulge or bump beneath the arm, breast cancer armpit lump

Having or experiencing any of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate that you have breast cancer. A benign cyst, for example, can cause pain or even a lump in the breast. Even so, if you discover a lump in your breast or experience any other symptoms, consult your healthcare provider for a thorough exam and testing.


Causes of Breast Cancer 

Connective tissue, fat, and multiple lobules make up a woman's breast, especially after puberty. Breastfeeding milk is produced by these small glands. The milk then travels to the nipple through tiny tubes or ducts. 

Breast cancer results in uncontrollable cell proliferation which doesn’t die at the expected time during their cycle. But since the malignancy utilized energy and nutrients, it deprives the surrounding cells, resulting in cancer. 

In most cases, breast cancer begins in the inside lining of the lobules or milk ducts that provide milk to them. It can then metastasize to other areas of the body over time. 


Risk Factors of Breast Cancer 

Various risk factors can increase the possibility of developing breast cancer. Nonetheless, it’s not necessary that you will get the disease if you have any of the risk factors. 

They include; 

  • Breast cancer age risk; the chances of getting breast cancer tend to increase with age. 
  • Alcohol drinking 
  • Having thick breast tissue
  • Inheritable genetic factors 
  • Family history of breast cancer 
  • Exposure to radiation 
  • Being obese 
  • Starting menstrual period at a young age 
  • Starting menopause at old age
  • Not having been pregnant 
  • Hormonal therapy 


Breast Cancer Diagnosis 

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

In addition to a breast exam, your doctor will conduct a complete physical examination to establish whether your symptoms are caused by breast cancer or a benign breast ailment. They may also order one or more diagnostic tests to determine the source of your symptoms.

The following tests can aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer:

  • Mammogram

An imaging test known as mammography is the most common approach to view beneath the breast surface. Most women in their forties and fifties receive mammograms every year to screen for breast cancer. 

Also, the medical provider or oncologist can recommend a mammogram if he or she thinks you have a tumor or there is a suspicious area. If the mammography reveals an abnormal spot, the doctor may order other additional tests. 

  • Ultrasound

An ultrasound on the breast creates detailed images of the tissues located deep within the breast using sound waves. In addition, the doctor can use an ultrasound to tell the difference between a benign cyst and a solid mass, like a tumor. 

  • Breast biopsy 

If a mammogram or an ultrasound fails to reveal whether or not you have cancer, your physician may suggest a breast biopsy. The biopsy involves removing a small tissue sample from the suspicious location for further analysis. 

Breast biopsies come in a variety of forms. For instance, the doctor may extract a tissue sample with a needle in some of these tests. They can also create an incision or cut in the breast and take out the sample in others. 

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast

An MRI machine creates images of the inner breast using a powerful magnet and radio waves. The doctor will first administer a dye injection before performing the breast MRI. However, an MRI technique does not employ radiation to generate pictures, as with other imaging procedures. 


Breast Cancer Treatment 

Some of the factors that determine the type of breast cancer treatment you require include; 

  • The type and stage of your breast cancer 
  • The extent it has spread
  • The size of the tumor

Therefore, the oncologist will start by determining the stage, size, and grade of your cancer. This also includes the probability of growing and even spreading further. Following that, you can talk about the suitable treatment alternative, which can include; 

Surgical procedure:

There are numerous surgeries that doctors can use to extract breast cancer. They include;

  • Lumpectomy: This involves removing the tumor and the nearby tissue while the remainder of the breast is left intact. 
  • Mastectomy: This entails the removal of the whole breast. The surgeon can remove both breasts during a double mastectomy. 
  • Sentinel node biopsy: During this procedure, the surgeon will extract a few lymph nodes getting drainage from the tumor. The lymph nodes in question are then examined. There is no need for another surgery to take out additional lymph nodes if cancer is absent. 
  • Axillary lymph node dissection: If cancer cells are found in lymph nodes taken during a sentinel node biopsy, the doctor can remove more lymph nodes. 
  • Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy: Although breast cancer may only be found in one breast, other women choose to have a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy. It eliminates the good breast in order to lower the chances of getting breast cancer for a second time. 

Radiation therapy:

Radiation therapy uses high-powered radiation beams to target and destroys cancerous cells. External beam radiation is used in the majority of radiation treatments. A huge machine is attached to the outside of the body during this approach. 


Chemotherapy is a type of drug treatment that is used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used alone in some cases. However, doctors frequently use it in conjunction with other treatments like surgery. 

Hormone therapy:

Your doctor can recommend hormone therapy if the kind of breast cancer you have is hormone-sensitive. Two female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone can promote the formation of breast cancer tumors. Therefore, hormone treatment works by inhibiting the synthesis of these hormones in the body or inhibiting cancer cells' hormone receptors. This approach may help to delay or even stop the development of cancers. 



Breast cancer is a form of cancer that develops within the breasts cells. It is the second leading cause of death among women. Even though breast cancer is more widespread in women, it can also occur in men. 

The needs of breast cancer screening and being aware of the symptoms are both effective methods to reduce the risk. This also increases the chances of a successful recovery.