What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- Breast lump or lump in the armpit that is hard, has uneven edges, and usually does not hurt
- Change in the size, shape, or feel of the breast or nipple
- Fluid from the nipple, may be bloody, clear to yellow, green, or look like pus
- Bone pain
- Breast pain or discomfort
- Skin ulcers
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit (next to the breast with cancer)
- Weight loss
What Causes Breast Cancer?
- Age and gender
- Family history of breast cancer
- Alcohol use -- Drinking more than 1 to 2 glasses of alcohol a day may increase your risk of breast cancer.
- Childbirth -- Women who have never had children or who had their first child after age 30 have an increased risk of breast cancer. Being pregnant more than once or becoming pregnant at an early age reduces your risk of breast cancer.
- DES -- Women who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriage may have an increased risk of breast cancer after age 40
- Hormone therapy (HT)
- Early breast cancers found by a mammogram have a good chance of being cured.
- Tamoxifen is approved for breast cancer prevention in women aged 35 and older who are at high risk
Treatment for Breast Cancer
- Chemotheropy, which uses medicines to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy, which is used to destroy cancerous tissue.
- Surgery to remove cancerous tissue: A lumpectomy removes the breast lump; mastectomy removes all or part of the breast and possible nearby structures.
- Targeted therapy uses medicine to attack the gene changes in cancer cells. Hormone therapy is an example of targeted therapy. It blocks certain hormones that fuel cancer growth.