Breast cancer is a malignant tumor in which the abnormal cells in the breast divide and multiply uncontrollably. The cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body
There are 3 major sub-types of breast cancer in women. It can be determined by specific tests on the tissue sample.
Most breast cancers start in the ducts or lobes and are called ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma. Breast cancer can be invasive or noninvasive. Invasive breast cancer is cancer that spreads into surrounding tissues. Noninvasive breast cancer does not go beyond the milk ducts or lobules in the breast.
|Ductal carcinoma||These cancers starts in the cells lining the milk ducts and make up the majority of breast cancers.|
|Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)||This is cancer that is located only in the duct. When a cancer spreads outside the ducts, it is called as invasive or infiltrating ductal carcinoma.|
|Lobular carcinoma.||This is cancer that starts in the lobules. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). LCIS is located only in the lobules. LCIS is not considered cancer. However, LCIS is a risk factor for developing invasive breast cancer in both breasts|
Both exposure (environmental or occupational) to particular agents & an individual’s susceptibility to these agents are thought to contribute to one’s risk of developing breast cancer
|Gender Breast cancer is ~100 times more common among women than men|
|Family History Risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease|
|Age Only 12 % of invasive breast cancers are found in women < 45, while 66% of invasive breast cancers are found in women > 55|
|Race Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women|
|Density of Breast Tissue Women with denser breast tissue (as seen on a mammogram), which have more glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, have a higher risk of breast cancer (not due to the density, but due to the fact that the density makes imaging difficult)|
The following are the common symptoms of breast cancer
|Lump in a breast|
|Pain in the armpits or breast that does not seem to be related to the woman's menstrual period|
|Pitting or redness of the skin of the breast; like the skin of an orange|
|Rash around (or on) one of the nipples|
|Swelling (lump) in one of the armpits|
|An area of thickened tissue in a breast|
|One of the nipples has a discharge; sometimes it may contain blood|
|The nipple changes in appearance; it may become sunken or inverted|
|Changes in the size and shape of the breast|
|Peeling of, scaly or flaky skin on breasts and nipples|
|Bone pain and symptoms of hypercalcemia|
|Abdominal distention and jaundice|
This image can help understand better
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Both Imaging and clinical tests are done for diagnosis of breast cancer. The most common test is a Mammogram. However, a mammogram is not sufficient to confirm cancer and hence patients usually undergo additional tests like biopsy and other pathological tests to confirm cancer.
|MRI & Bone Scan|
Presently there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. The primary goals of the metastatic breast cancer are to ensure
Systemic therapy and radition therapy are often used to treat metastatic breast cancer.
There are 3 types of systemic therapy:
Hormonal therapy, also called endocrine therapy, is an effective treatment for many tumors that test positive for either ER or PR.The goal of this type of therapy is to lower the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body or to block these hormones from getting to cancer cells.If the hormones cannot get to the cancer cells, the cancer cannot use them to grow.
The choice of hormonal therapy depends if the woman in menstruating or has gone through menopause as well as prior treatment history and the patient's immediate health.
Examples of drug given for hormonal therapy are
Common ways to give chemotherapy include an intravenous (IV) tube placed into a vein using a needle or in a pill or capsule that is swallowed (orally).
Common chemotherapies include (common brand names in brackets)
These treatments are very focused and work differently than chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells.
There are different types of targeted therapies that vary in how they target the cancer cells:
|HER2+ve metastatic breast cancer||
|Hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer||
There are many resources on the net for reading further about cancer
© Copyright OncTag 2017