Cancer in breast tissue is known as breast cancer. In the United States, Breast cancer is found to be the most common cancer diagnosed in women after skin cancer. Though the possibilities of breast cancer exist in both male and female, it is a disease found more commonly in females. In the past few years due to the development of molecular biology, a lot of research has been done in the areas of diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. But breast cancer continues to be a major problem in the female population. Here we have provided a brief introduction to breast cancer, its different types, signs and symptoms, stages, its diagnosis and treatment as well as genetic aspect of breast cancer.
What are different signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
It is necessary to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer for regular self examination. Self testing of breast cancer at least once in a month is necessary for its prevention on time. General symptoms include tenderness in nipples, appearance of lumps near the breast or underarm, unexplained swelling or shrinkage of the breast, abnormal shape of the nipple, and enlargement of the pores of skin of breast (orange peel appearance) and abnormal secretions. By regular self-examination at least once in a month, one can check for any abnormality in the breast and stop the advance of the disease at the initial stage.
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Different types of breast cancer
• Ductal carcinoma in situ
• Invasive ductal carcinoma
• Inflammatory breast cancer
• Metastatic breast cancer
• Medullary Carcinoma
• Tubular Carcinoma
• Mucinous Carcinoma
• Triple negative breast cancer
What is triple negative breast cancer?
At least 15 to 20% of all diagnosed breast cancer is triple negative breast cancer. The basis for breast cancer diagnosis is the presence of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor. But if these receptors are not present in the cancer tumor, the condition is known as triple negative breast cancer. Due to absence of these most common receptors hormone therapy as an option for treatment becomes ineffective. Chemotherapy responds better for triple negative breast cancer.
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Different stages of breast cancer:
Stages of breast cancer depend on size of tumors, number of affected lymph nodes, and its invasion to other organs. Stage 0 &1 is early stage and cancer cells are confined to very less area. In stage 2 the cancer begin to grow and spread. In stage 3, cancer is considered as advanced cancer and starts to invade surrounding tissue, and in stage 4, cancer spreads to other parts of the body. When in the advanced stage it becomes difficult to treat breast cancer. For timely cure, it becomes essential to detect the disease in its early stages.
Testing for breast cancer:
As discussed earlier regular self testing is the best way to find out any breast abnormality in the initial stages. Some effective methods for breast cancer diagnosis include Mammography, MRI, Biopsy, and ultrasound of the breast. The most common laboratory tests include HER2 and hormone receptor test for testing of breast cancer.
Genetic aspect of breast cancer:
Genes are what we get from our parents and it is genes that are responsible for the inheritance of parental characters and diseases. Breast cancer may be inherited. Every woman has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Normally these genes are responsible for restoring normal, healthy breast cells and repairing cell damage. But any mutation in these genes may result in inherited breast cancer.
HER2 (Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) gene is responsible for the formation of HER2 proteins present in breast cells and responsible for repair and growth of cells. Sometimes mutation occurs in HER2 gene, which results in HER2 positive breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer. But this type of genetic mutation is not inherited.
Treatment of breast cancer:
With the advancement of medical science and pharmaceutical science various new methods and drugs have come into existence for effective treatment of breast cancer. Now chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and various surgical methods are available to treat breast cancer. New targeted therapies are being developed. Scientists are ready with new drugs which are under clinical trial.
Breast cancer is a serious problem, but proper awareness, right information about breast cancer, some modification in lifestyle as eating healthy food, no smoking or drinking alcohol and proper exercise may prove helpful in keeping yourself away from breast cancer.
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