Breast Self Exam
Diagnosis And Treatments
Bra Do'S & Dont'S
It is a good idea for every woman to be as
informed as possible about the signs, symptoms, and
complications of breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most
prevalent cancers facing women today. Unfortunately, many women
are still unfamiliar with the basic facts about breast cancer.
As a result, many women are not engaging in preventative action
or remain unaware that they are suffering from the disease. By
maintaining awareness of breast cancer signs and symptoms, you
can take steps to lower your risk of developing the disease.
What is Breast
Breast cancer is a disease that causes the cells inside
of your breast to grow too rapidly. Typically, breast cells grow
in controlled cycles; this prevents too many cells from forming
at any one time. Sometimes, however, these cycles break down,
and cell growth becomes chaotic. As a result, masses of cells
begin to form in your breast tissue, developing into cancerous
Breast cancer can be invasive or
non-invasive. Invasive breast cancer is much more serious, as
these cancer cells can travel to different areas of your body,
including your vital organs. Non-invasive breast cancer only
affects the breast or surrounding breast tissue.
Every year, over 200,000 people in the United States are
diagnosed with some form of breast cancer. Though women are more
likely to develop the disease, men can also suffer from male
breast cancer. Everyone is at risk for developing breast cancer,
however, there are certain factors that can increase your risk.
Risk factors include:
aging (risk of breast cancer rises after the age of 40)
having a personal history of breast cancer
having a family history of breast cancer or prostate
experiencing changes in breast shape, size, or density
having one of the breast cancer genes (BRCA 1 or 2)
experiencing early menarche or late menopause
being overweight or obese
What Causes Breast
There seem to be many factors that contribute to the development
of breast cancer, ranging from hormone levels to weight.
However, the main factor involved in breast cancer appears to be
Your genetic code is made up of DNA strands
that contain information dictating your appearance and bodily
functions. Specific genes in your DNA are responsible for
controlling cell growth. People with breast cancer appear to
have abnormalities in specific cell-controlling genes, known as
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. These abnormalities are what cause the breast
cells to grow out of control.
Types of Breast
There are numerous types of breast cancer. Each type of breast
cancer is associated with a different prognosis and may require
different types of treatments.
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ:
This is the most common type of non-invasive breast
cancer. It accounts for 20% of all breast cancers and
originates inside the mammary ducts in the breast. This
type of breast cancer is often cured, if caught early.
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ:
This type of breast cancer originates in the
milk-producing glands in the breasts. It is
non-invasive, and will not grow outside of breast
tissue. Lobular carcinoma in situ is often associated
with an increased risk for developing an invasive breast
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma:
Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of
breast cancer, accounting for 80% of all invasive breast
cancer cases. It begins in the breast ducts, but can
later move to other areas of the body. If caught early,
this type of breast cancer can be treated effectively.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma:
This type of breast cancer accounts for only 10% of all
invasive breast cancer cases. It begins in the
milk-producing glands and can quickly spread to other
areas of the breast and body.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer:
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare cancer, accounting
for only 1% to 4% of all breast cancers cases.
Inflammatory breast cancer is caused by cancer cells
blocking the lymph vessels in the breasts. It causes
redness of the breast and gives the breast skin a
dimpled appearance. Prognosis for inflammatory breast
cancer tends to be mediocre.
Medullary carcinoma is a rare invasive cancer,
characterized by large, abnormally shaped cancer cells.
The prognosis for medullary carcinoma is good, if it is
Paget Disease of the Nipple:
This type of cancer occurs in the breast ducts and
spreads to the cells in the nipple and areola. It is
extremely rare, occurring in only 1% of cases. Symptoms
include crusting and oozing of the nipple, breast
bleeding, and scaly breast skin.
This is a very rare type of invasive breast cancer,
accounting for only 2% of all breast cancer cases. It is
characterized by tube-shaped cancer cells and is
associated with an excellent prognosis.
Symptoms of Breast
Unfortunately, breast cancer usually doesnít present any
symptoms until the latter stages of the disease. At this point,
the cancer has usually progressed, making treatment and recovery
more difficult. Some common signs of breast cancer include:
a change in the shape or size of the breast
a change in the texture or color of the breast skin
the presence of a hard lump in the breast or underneath
Stages of Breast
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, your health care
provider will likely perform some tests to determine what stage
your cancer has progressed to. The breast cancer stages are:
Stage 0 indicates that you have precancerous cells in
the milk lobules or ducts in your breast. These cells
havenít yet spread outside of the ducts of lobules into
the breast. Some women will develop breast cancer while
others will remain precancerous.
Stage I: Stage I
indicates that cancer has spread to the tissue
surrounding the initial cancer site. In this stage, the
cancerous tumor in no bigger than one inch across and
hasnít spread past the breast margin.
Stage II: Stage II
indicates that the cancer cells have spread to the lymph
nodes beneath your arms. Tumors are generally one to two
inches in width.
Stage III: Stage III
breast cancer indicates that cancer cells have spread to
the lymph nodes, breastbone tissue, or to other breast
tissues. In this stage, tumors are larger than two
Stage IV: Stage IV,
or metastic cancer, occurs when cancer cells have spread
to other areas of the body.
The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the
quicker treatment can be started.