Breast Cancer

  • Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer found in women and has been said to be second most general cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. While most of the new breast cancer cases are diagnosed because of the abnormality witnessed on a mammogram a mass or change in consistency of the breast muscles can also be a sign of the disease. Accentuated awareness of breast cancer risk in the recent decades has resulted in an increase in the number of women going for mammography for screening, leading to detection of cancers in an earlier stage that eventually leads to augmentation in survival rates.
  • When cancerous cells grow in any part of the breast, the disease is called breast cancer. Mostly, breast cancer starts in the internal lining of milk ducts or the lobules those provide them with milk. Breast cancer that begins in the lobules is called lobular carcinoma, whereas the other one which starts from ducts is called ductal carcinoma.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
Month & Date October 1st
Ribbon Pink Color

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms


  • A change in the feel of the breast or nipple
  • A lump in or near the breast or around the underarm area
  • A change in the looks of the breast or nipple
  • A change in the shape and shape of the breast
  • A nipple shows an inward thrust into the breast
  • The skin of the breast, areola, or the nipple may become red, scaly, or swollen. It may have ridges or pitting to look like the skin of an orange.

Sign of Breast Cancer

Clinical breast exam

If you have a lump, your doctor will identify its shape, size, and nature. Your doctor will also check to identify if it moves easily. Benign lumps usually differ from cancerous lumps. Soft, smooth, and moving lumps are most likely not cancer. A tough and oddly shaped lump can be cancer.

Diagnostic mammogram

X-ray pictures of the breast are called diagnostic mammograms. They take clearer, more explicit images of areas that seem abnormal on a screening mammogram. Doctors store them to learn more about unusual breast changes, such as a lump, thickening, pain, nipple discharge, or changes in breast size or shape.


An ultrasound device sends sound waves that are not audible. The waves bounce off the tissues. A computer creates a picture using the echoes. Your doctor can watch these pictures on a computer. The pictures may explain whether a lump is tough or filled with fluid. As a solid lump may be cancer.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a high quality magnet connected to a computer. MRI makes comprehensive pictures of breast tissue. Your doctor can watch these images on a compute or print them on film. MRI may be used with a mammogram.


Your doctor may refer you to a breast disease specialist for conducting biopsy. Fluid or tissue is removed from your breast to identify if there is cancer.
Some unclear areas can be witnessed on a mammogram but cannot be felt. Doctors can utilize imaging method to see the area and remove tissue. Such procedures involve ultrasound-guided, needle-localized, or stereotactic biopsy.


Research has proclaimed much information about the reasons of breast cancers, and it is now declared that genetic and/or hormonal factors are the primary reasons for breast cancer. Staging model has been generated to enable doctors to earmark the type to which a particular cancer has developed and to take decisions related to treatment options.

There is no certain cause of breast cancer. However the following are some of the risk factors of breast cancer:

  • Age: As women grow older they are more likely to be victim of breast cancer. The disease is seen more with women after the age of 50.
  • Heredity: If anyone from the family suffers from breast or ovary cancer, other women of the family should get checked for breast cancer.
  • Personal issues: Starting periods at an early age before 12 and attaining menopause phase after 55 may be a reason of breast cancer.
  • Dense breasts: Women with dense breasts are also at the risk of breast cancer.

Other factors responsible for breast cancer are overweight, hormone problem, use of birth control pills, consuming alcohol, not having own kids or giving birth to first child so late i.e. after the age of 35.

Treatment of Breast cancer

Breast cancer treatment depends upon many elements, comprising the kind of cancer and the stage it has passed. Treatment options for breast cancer may involve surgery (removal of the cancer), chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormonal therapy,


Surgery is the most general diagnosis for breast cancer. There are various types of surgery.

Breast-sparing Surgery

An operation to remove the cancer without removing breast is termed as breast-sparing surgery. It is also defined as breast-conserving surgery, partial mastectomy, and segmental mastectomy.
The surgeon sometimes also removes the underarm lymph nodes. This process is defined as auxiliary lymph node dissection. It detects whether cancer cells have travelled the lymphatic system.


An operation to remove the breast is called mastectomy. In several cases, the doctor also removes lymph nodes around the arm. Some women have to undergo radiation therapy after surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses powerful rays to terminate cancer cells. A lot of women undergo radiation therapy after breast-sparing surgery. Treatment depends on the volume of the tumor and other components. This radiation kills breast cancer cells which may remain in the area.


Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy for breast cancer is generally a blend of drugs. The drugs may be administered as a pill or may be injected into a vein. Either ways, the drugs enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.

Biological Therapy

  • Biological therapy enables the immune system fight cancer. The immune system is the body's natural defense system against disease.
  • Some women with breast cancer undergo a biological therapy called Herceptin. It is a monoclonal antibody. Herceptin is given to those women whose lab tests display that a breast tumor has too much of a particular protein known as HER2. By blocking HER2, it can cut down or stop the development of the cancer cells.

Herceptin is injected into the vein. It may be administered separately or with chemotherapy.

Breast Cancer Awareness

  • Breast cancer awareness helps us to realize how both high fat and highly refined carbohydrate diets are the major cause for breast cancer.
  • Awareness Ribbons are generally used to advocate a cause or disease that is plaguing the world.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but very tough type of breast cancer in which the lymph is blocked by the cancer cells in the skin of the breast. Such breast cancers are termed as “inflammatory” as the breast looks red and swollen, or “inflamed.” IBC encompasses 1-5 percent of all breast cancer cases in the US. It tends to be detected in younger women compared to non-IBC breast cancer. Like other kinds of breast cancer, IBC can be seen in men, but generally at an older age than in female.

Breast cancer ribbon and breast cancer bracelets are also available in the market to display and embrace the concern in this regard

Test & Procedures

Early detection of breast cancer is better for patient’s mental and physical health. The following are some of the tests conducted to detect breast cancer:

Self exam:

Women should look at their breasts and feel each of them. If any lumps, swelling or distortions found, immediately consult your doctor.

Breast examination in clinic:

The doctor feels the breasts and checks the under arms for anything unusual like lumps or swelling


During mammogram, a certain type of x-ray is taken to search for unusual growths or alteration in breast tissues.

Breast Ultrasound:

Ultrasound images are also referred to look for changes in breasts.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):

During MRI, radio waves and a powerful magnet connected to a computer are used to take thorough pictures of different parts inside the breasts. If lumps are found during clinical breast examination, MRI technology is then used for further test.

Breast Biopsy

To conduct breast biopsy, a small sample from the suspected area is taken and checked if the cells are cancerous.

Minimally Invasive Breast Biopsy

In this method of detecting breast cancer, the patient is given anesthesia. The radiologist makes a little opening in the skin and then a sterile biopsy needle is entered into the unusual breast tissue. Computerized images help in placing the needle. The tissue sample is collected through the biopsy needle and checked for cancer.

Sentinel Node Biopsy

The sentinel nodes are the few primary lymph nodes into which a tumor drains. While testing breast cancer through sentinel node biopsy, a tracing material is injected to locate the sentinel nodes. The surgeon removes sentinel nodes and checks for cancer.

Ductal Lavage

A hair-thin tube (catheter) is inserted into the nipple and a little amount of salted water is released into the duct. That salt water collects the breast cells and then the tube is removed. The cells are examined under microscope.

Preventive Measures

Following preventive measures can be adapted to lessen the risk of breast cancer:

Healthy diet:

Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Consume food with fewer calories.


Do some physical exercise regularly to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Hormone Replacement Therapy:

Women who are using HRT should compare the benefits and risks of the therapy. Studies have shown that HRT with estrogens or progestin’s or both enhance the threat of breast cancer.

Oral contraceptives:

Do not use oral contraceptives as they increase the risk of the deadly disease.

Breast-feeding :

Researchers have found that women who do not breast feed their babies are at higher risk of breast cancer. So, breast feed your baby till he becomes two years old and reduce the risk of breast cancer for yourself.

Treatment Cost

A breast cancer patient may have to spend approximately 5000 USD. This amount includes stay, surgeon payment, medicines and consumables, nursing care and food. However, the cost varies from patient to patient depending on the stage of cancer and standard of treatment.

Side Effects

Side effects of breast cancer treatment are temporary. The following are some of the side effects of breast cancer treatment:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Mouth soreness
  • Hair loss
  • Premature menopause
  • Lowered resistance power to infections
  • Bleeding
  • Diarrhea


A to Z Cancer Types