As a woman, it is important to be as knowledgeable as you can about breast cancer. After all, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women today. It is second only to lung cancer. In recent years we have seen a rapid rise in the number of women affected by breast cancer. Though any woman can develop breast cancer, by learning about its signs and symptoms and engaging in proper prevention, you can significantly lower your risks of developing serious breast cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
When cancer attacks the breast area, it is known as breast cancer. Breast cancer occurs when the cells inside your breast begin to grow out of control. As a result, lumps called tumors begin to form deep inside the breast. If left untreated, these cells will continue to grow and can eventually spread throughout your body, causing a number of side effects.
About 216,000 people will develop breast cancer this year alone. Unfortunately 43,000 of these patients will lose their battle with the disease. Luckily, a number of quality treatments are now available for use in the battle against breast cancer. Though it is often thought of as a woman's disease, 1 in every 100 patients with breast cancer is actually male.
No one is really sure what causes breast cancer in all women. Instead, it seems that there are a variety of factors that contribute to breast cancer.
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are genes that are found inside every person's body. These BRCA genes are responsible for helping our DNA to repair itself. When functioning normally, these genes help our bodies to stay healthy; but when functioning abnormally, these genes can cause cancer cells to grow. Both women and men can be born with or develop abnormalities in their BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. This is associated with an 85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. The BRCA 1 and 2 genes are also associated with ovarian cancer.
Hormones, particularly estrogens, seem to play a role in contributing to continued cell growth in cancer patients. Estrogens stimulate cell growth, which means that exposure to estrogens may play a role in causing breast cancer.
While every woman is at risk of developing breast cancer, although some women and a few men are at an increased risk of developing the disease. Risk factors include:
- Age: the older you get the more likely you are to develop breast cancer.
- Family history: if your mother, sister, or daughter had breast cancer you are also more likely to develop it.
- BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene abnormality
- Prolonged exposure to estrogen, such as through hormone replacement therapy
- Experiencing early menarche or late menopause.
- Delaying childbirth or not having children
- Possibly having an early abortion
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
It is important to keep an eye out for the signs of breast cancer. This will enable you to seek treatment earlier if you do develop the illness. Signs include:
- a lump or mass in your breast tissue
- pain or discharge from your nipple
- breast swelling or inversion of your nipple
- dimpling or change in the texture of your skin
Stages of Breast Cancer:
There are five main stages of breast cancer.
Stage 0: Stage 0, or non-invasive cancer, marks the very beginning stages of cancer, in which no invading cells have spread out of the tumor area.
Stage I: Stage I is classified as invasive cancer that has caused a tumor in the breast, which is less than 2 centimeters wide. It has not yet affected the lymph nodes.
Stage II: Stage II breast cancer is characterized by a tumor between 2 and 5 centimeters wide. Cancer cells have also spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage III: Stage III breast cancer occurs when the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. In this stage the cancer has also spread to the lymph nodes, causing them to stick together. Cancer cells may also spread to the skin, mammary glands, and chest wall.
Stage IV: Stage IV breast cancer occurs when the cancer cells have spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes, into areas like the lungs, bones, and brain.
Get active with our breast cancer walk promoting welfare for breast cancer.