Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Symptoms, Causes, Cure, and Everything About Breast Cancer
Did you know that more than 155, 000 American men and women have metastatic breast cancer? That’s a figure too big to ignore!
The most common non-skin cancer among American women is breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
What is more alarming is the fact that about 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. Breast cancer accounts for about 15% of all new cancer diagnosed and 7% of all cancer deaths each year.
October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of finding breast cancer early and spread the word about mammograms, and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.
Here’s what you need to know about breast cancer and how you can help your near and dear ones understand its diagnosis and treatment.
So, what actually causes breast cancer?
If we examine the facts, we will come to know that breasts are made of a variety of different tissues, including ducts, lobes and lobules and glands that produce milk. Breasts also have lymph nodes and fatty tissue. Breast cancer occurs due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations. Most breast cancers are ductal carcinomas that begin in milk ducts in the breasts.
However, there are other factors that might increase the risk of breast cancer. These include: obesity, breast density, menstrual history, family history, sedentary lifestyle, heavy alcohol consumption, etc.
Different types of breast cancer:
Although there are a different types and subtypes of breast cancer, the most common ones are adenocarcinomas.
Put simply, adenocarcinomas are tumors found in many common cancers, including prostate, lung and colorectal. Breast adenocarcinomas form in milk ducts or milk-producing glands known as lobules.
Each type of breast cancer may be determined based on where in the breast it develops, whether it is invasive, non-invasive or driven by hormones or proteins.
Types of breast cancer include: Adenocystic carcinoma, Angiosarcoma, Ductal carcinoma, Inflammatory breast cancer, Lobular carcinoma, Metaplastic carcinoma and Phyllodes tumor.
Breast cancer cells spread into the lymph nodes in and around the breasts, and from there, travel and form tumors in distant parts of the body. When that occurs, it is called metastatic breast cancer.
When it spreads, it may be found the brain, bones, liver and lungs. It will still be called breast cancer even if it is found on other parts of the body.
- Swelling in or around breast, collarbone, or armpit: Swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in other body areas. The swelling may occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast.
- Lump or mass in the breast: This is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Such lumps are often hard and painless, though some may be painful. Not all lumps are cancer, though.
- Nipple changes: Breast cancer can sometimes cause changes to how your nipples look. If your nipples turn inward, or the skin on them thickens or gets red or scaly, visiting your physician is desirable. These are all the common symptoms of breast cancer.
- Nipple discharge: A discharge (other than milk) from the nipple is an alarming situation. But it may be caused by injury, infection, or a benign tumor that may not be cancerous). Here, breast cancer is a possibility, especially if the fluid is bloody, so your physician needs to check it out.
- Skin thickening or redness: In this case, the skin of your breast starts feeling thicker like an orange peel. Sometimes, it gets red or scaly. Often, these are caused by mastitis, a breast infection common among women who are breast feeding. This form of breast cancer can look a lot like a breast infection. Because it grows quickly, it is important to get it diagnosed as soon as possible.
- Breast warmth and itching: Breast warmth and itching are symptoms of mastitis – and sometimes, inflammatory breast cancer. If antibiotics don’t help, see your physician again.
- Pain: While most breast cancers do not cause pain in the breast, some do. More often, women have breast pain or discomfort that is related to their menstrual cycle. This type of pain is most common in the week or so before their periods, and often goes away once menstruation begins.
Key stats about breast cancer:
- One of the major things about breast cancer is that the risk for developing breast cancer increases with age.
- According to the National Cancer Institute, the average age of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is 62.
- About 10% of breast cancers occur in women younger than 45.The average age of death caused by breast cancer is 68.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women between age 55 and 64.
Women with a family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk for developing the disease. For example; Women whose grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter has or had breast cancer may have double the risk. Women who have inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes also are at higher risk.
Interestingly, breast cancer also occurs in men, but it is a rarity. Approximately 2,670 American men will learn they have breast cancer in 2019, the American Cancer Society estimates. Male breast cancer accounts for 1% of all breast cancer diagnoses.
Diagnosing breast cancer
Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented? There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk. This can be especially helpful for women with certain risk factors for breast cancer, such as having a strong family history or certain gene changes.
Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms at all. This is why regular breast cancer screening is important.
Tools and tests used to diagnose breast cancer include: lab tests, advanced genomic testing, biopsy, and imaging tests such as ultrasound and mammography.
Different tests are used to determine whether the breast cancer has metastasized. These tests include: radiofrequency ablation, endobronchial ultrasound and bone scan.
Surgery is a common treatment option for breast cancer. Other treatment options include: chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy.
Stay safe with EPIC primary care:
With its strategic partnership RMI Imaging, EPIC Primary Care brings to you the best when it comes to fighting breast cancer.
RMI offers clinical diagnostic services for the prevention and early detection of breast cancer with the comfort, convenience, and caring approach you want.
With EPIC you get the following:
- Screening 2D Mammogram: Uses X-rays to produce a 2D set of images for review by a radiologist.
- 3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis): Generally, it is advised for women with denser breasts. The testing device produces 3D images for greater clarity and detection of issues.
- Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM): CESM is for patients who have had inconclusive mammograms or an abnormal ultrasound.
- Rapid Screening Breast MRI: An MRI screening may be used either in conjunction with or in lieu of a mammogram, depending on factors such as breast density or breast cancer risk.
- Diagnostic Breast MRI Breast: Diagnostic MRI enhances the ability to diagnose suspicious, possibly cancerous tissues by adding a “fourth dimension” to the imaging data based on time and motion.
- Image-Guided Biopsy: An image-guided biopsy is a fast, minimally invasive way to extract small tissue samples to test for cancer.
- PET/CT: This uses two different imaging approaches to look for the signs of disease or other problems. PET/CT is often helpful in breast cancer evaluation, staging, and treatment planning.
- BRCA Gene Testing: The BRCA genes are hereditary breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations. Understanding your genetic predisposition to breast cancer helps your physician make informed decisions for your health and treatment.
- UltimateMamm: It is a more comprehensive approach to mammography. Women with certain factors in their personal or family medical history may be at higher risk of developing breast cancer and they can benefit from this aggressive monitoring technique.
What else you get with EPIC:
• Same day appointments
• Extended hours for critical patients
• Transportation arrangements, as needed
• Fast-paced electronic reporting system
• Real-time connection between the patient and the facility
Apart from these, we send documents back to your insurance company so they can quickly help with your payments and bills. We also do this as some payers have made it mandatory for their patients to get mammograms to get their claims processed.
As this is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take it up as an opportunity to spread the word about early detection of breast cancer. Let’s also encourage women in 40 to 49 age-group to have a word with their physician about when to start getting mammograms.