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July 22, 2021

Symptoms of breast cancer, types and causes .. Complete guide

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the breast and can start in one or both breasts, it begins when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can also develop breast cancer.

It is essential to understand that most breast tumors are benign, not cancerous (malignant), and noncancerous breast tumors are abnormal growths. Still, they do not spread outside the breast and are not life-threatening, but some types of benign breast tumors can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

A healthcare professional should check any breast lump or change to see if it is benign or malignant (cancer) and if it may affect your risk of developing cancer.

Types of breast cancer

There are many different types of breast cancer, and the variety is determined by the type of cells affected in the breast; most breast tumors are cancers.

The most common breast cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive carcinoma, are adenocarcinomas, in which cancers begin in gland cells in the milk ducts or lobules (milk-producing glands).

Other types of cancer can grow in the breast, such as hemangiosarcoma or sarcoma, but they have not been considered breast cancer because they start in different breast cells.

Doctors and scientists classify breast cancers according to the specific types of proteins or genes that each tumor may make; After finishing the analysis, they test breast cancer cells for estrogen and progesterone receptors and the HER2 gene or protein.

Cancer cells are also closely examined in the laboratory for their grade. The specific proteins present and the quality of the tumor can help determine the stage of cancer and treatment options.

There are many types of breast cancer and many ways to describe them:

Ductal or lobule carcinoma

Most breast cancers are carcinomas, tumors that begin in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. When cancerous tumors form in the breast, they are usually a more specific type called adenocarcinoma, which begins in the cells in the ducts (milk ducts) or lobules (the glands in the breast that make milk).

Invasive breast cancer

The type of breast cancer can also indicate whether cancer has spread or not. Breast cancer in situ (ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS) is precancerous cancer that begins in the milk duct and does not grow in the rest of the breast tissue.

Invasive (or infiltrating) breast cancer describes any breast cancer that has spread (invaded) into the surrounding breast tissue.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS; intraductal carcinoma) is noninvasive or pre-invasive breast cancer.

Invasive Breast Cancer (ILC or IDC)

Invasive (or infiltrating) breast cancer has spread to surrounding breast tissue. The most common types are invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for about 70-80% of all breast cancers.

Where does breast cancer begin?

Where does breast cancer begin?

Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. The breast is an organ located above the upper ribs and chest muscles. Both breasts have glands, ducts, and mainly fatty tissue.

In women, the breast makes milk to feed newborns and infants. The amount of fatty tissue in the breast determines the size of each breast.

Different parts of the breast:

  • The lobules are the glands that make breast milk, and the cancers that begin here are called lobular carcinomas.
  • Ducts are small ducts that come from the lobules and carry milk to the nipple; this is the most common place for breast cancer to start. Cancers that begin here are called ductal carcinomas.
  • The nipple is the opening in the skin of the breast where the ducts gather and turn into larger ducts so that milk can leave the breast. The nipple is surrounded by a slightly darker skin called the areola. A less common type of breast cancer called Paget’s breast disease can start in the nipple.
  • Adipose and connective tissue (stroma) surround the ducts and lobules and help keep them in place. A less common type of breast cancer called stromal tumor can begin in the stroma.
  • Blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are also found in every breast. Angiosarcoma, a less common type of breast cancer, can start in the lining of these vessels.

A small number of cancers start in other breast tissues, so these cancers are called sarcomas and lymphomas and are not thought to be breast cancers.

How does breast cancer spread?

Breast cancer can spread when cancer cells enter the blood or lymph system and then spread to other body parts.

The lymphatic (or lymphatic) system is part of the body’s immune system; It is a network of lymph nodes (small glands about the size of a bean), ducts, or vessels, and organs that work together to collect and transport clear lymph fluid through the body’s tissues to the blood.

The clear lymph fluid within the lymph vessels contains tissue byproducts and cells of the immune system.

Lymph vessels carry lymph fluid away from the breast. In the case of breast cancer, cancer cells can enter those lymph vessels and begin to grow in the lymph nodes.

Most lymph vessels in the breast drain into:

  • Lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes)
  • Lymph nodes within the chest near the breast bones (internal mammary lymph nodes)
  • Lymph nodes around the collarbone (above the collarbone [above the collarbone] and subclavian

If cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that the cells may travel through the lymph system and spread to other parts of the body.

However, not all women with cancer cells in the lymph nodes develop metastases, and some women who do not have cancer cells in the lymph nodes may develop metastases later.

Common breast cancer symptoms

Breast cancer symptoms

Breast cancer symptoms vary, and some people have no signs or symptoms.

Some of the warning signs of breast cancer are:

  • A new lump in the breast or armpit (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of a part of the breast.
  • Irritation or pitting of the skin of the breast.
  • Redness or flaking of the skin in the nipple or breast area.
  • Nipple tightness or pain in the nipple area.
  • Discharge from the nipple other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of ​​the breast.

Keep in mind that these symptoms of breast cancer can occur with conditions other than cancer.

See your doctor immediately if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

What does the presence of lumps in my chest mean?

Many conditions can cause breast lumps, including cancer, but most breast tumors are caused by other medical conditions, and the two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast cysts. Fibrocystic cysts cause noncancerous changes in the breast, making it lumpy, tender, and painful. Cysts are tiny fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.

What are the reasons behind breast cancer?

Breast cancer risk factor

Breast cancer occurs when cells in your breast grow and divide in an uncontrolled (immune) way, creating a mass of tissue called a tumor.

Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in your breast divide and multiply, but experts don’t know precisely why this process started in the first place.

However, research suggests several risk factors may increase your chances of developing breast cancer. These include:

  • Age
  • Being 55 or older increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Sex
  • Women are more likely to get breast cancer than men.
  • Family history and genes
  • If you have a parent, sibling, child, or other relative diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re more likely to develop the disease at some point. About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are caused by single, abnormal genes passed from parents to children, which can be detected by genetic testing.
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco use has been linked to many different types of cancer, including breast cancer.
  • Alcohol
  • Research suggests that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Obesity
  • Obesity can increase the risk and recurrence of breast cancer.
  • Radiation exposure
  • You’re more likely to develop breast cancer if you’ve previously had radiation therapy — especially to your head, neck, or chest.
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • People who use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

How is breast cancer diagnosed

Doctors often use additional tests to detect or diagnose breast cancer. They may refer women to a breast specialist or surgeon; This does not mean she has cancer or needs surgery. These doctors are experts in diagnosing breast problems.

Ultrasound of the breast

A device that uses sound waves to make images called ultrasounds of areas inside the breast.

Diagnostic mammogram

If you have a problem with your breasts, Such as lumps, or if an area of ​​the breast appears abnormal on a breast x-ray, doctors may order a mammogram.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the breast

A type of body scan that uses a magnet attached to a computer. An MRI scan makes detailed pictures of areas inside the breast.


This test removes tissue or fluid from the breast to be examined under a microscope and for further testing. Different biopsies exist (fine-needle aspiration, core biopsy, or open biopsy).

How is breast cancer treated?

Many breast cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy.

What’s suitable for you depends on many factors, including the location and size of the tumor, lab test results, and whether cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

Your health care provider tailors your treatment plan to your unique needs, and it’s not unusual to receive a combination of different treatments.

Misconceptions about breast cancer

misconception about breast cancer

Breast cancer isn’t often discussed, but it’s not always based on facts when it’s talked about. So how do you distinguish between fact and fiction? Here are the misconceptions about breast cancer.

Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk

While women with a family history are more likely to have it, statistically speaking, only 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history.

You can do nothing to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer

You can do many things to reduce your risk of breast cancer; Maintaining a healthy diet, reducing fat intake, exercising regularly, and having routine breast exams are some examples.

A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and is the best way to detect breast cancer. While mammograms require a small dose of radiation, the risk of harm from this exposure is shallow, and the benefits always outweigh the risks.

Antiperspirants and deodorants cause cancer.

There is no known relationship between antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer.

Only women can get breast cancer

While the risk is low, men can develop breast cancer and carry a higher mortality rate. Men are less likely to assume that a lump is breast cancer, so men need to do routine breast self-exams.


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