To all the people who always hear about breast cancer, but don’t actually know what it exactly is, we hear you, and we’ve got you covered! At what better time could we talk about breast cancer awareness other than October, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month? This article has everything you need to know about breast cancer, including what it is, what causes it, how to detect it, how to prevent it, and all its possible treatments.
What is breast cancer?
First of all, what exactly is breast cancer? Breast cancer happens when the cells in the breast start growing out of control creating a lump-looking tumor. This tumor is only considered Cancer if the cells can grow or spread into the tissues surrounding it. Breast cancer can be classified into “in situ” which means that the cancer has not spread, and “invasive” or “infiltrating” which means that the cancer has invaded the surrounding tissues.
Breast cancer has mainly two types: Ductal carcinoma and Lobular carcinoma. In addition, breast cancer has five stages which represent how far the cancer has spread throughout the body. This means that; the higher the stage, the farther the cancer has spread, and the harder to cure it has become.
What causes it?
Now moving on to the causes of breast cancer, up till this day, scientists haven’t found specific causes for breast cancer. However, what they’re sure of is that advancing age, as well as a family history of breast cancer, are common risk factors. To make it clearer, women over the age of 50 have higher chances of getting breast cancer than younger women.
How can breast cancer be prevented?
As we all know, prevention is better than cure, therefore all women should start adopting healthy habits that might prevent breast cancer. Even though some risk factors, such as family history of breast cancer, cannot be changed, risks can be lowered by applying some changes to one’s lifestyle.
The first healthy habit that can reduce risks of being diagnosed with breast cancer is controlling one’s weight. According to Cancer Research UK, obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. The second habit is physical activity as it can help maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, reduces risks of getting breast cancer.
How can breast cancer be detected?
Early detection saves lives! The first way to detect breast cancer is self-examination. Nobody knows your body better than yourself! So, if you start noticing any changes or signs in your body, head straight to your doctor to be certain. Here are some signs that you should look out for:
- A change in size and/or shape.
- Lumps(even if painless).
- Swelling of any kind.
- Skin irritation.
- Dimpling (looks like an orange peel).
- Noticeable pain (in the breast or armpit).
- Retraction (turning inwards).
- Redness or unusual thickening.
However, if self-examination does not work for you, regular breast-cancer screening is always the better option, especially for women over the age of 50.
Different types of breast cancer treatments:
Today, breast cancer has many different treatments, and depending on the type and stage of breast cancer the patient has, the doctor recommends the best suitable treatment.
The first type of treatment is a mastectomy, which is a surgery that removes the whole breast, or a lumpectomy, which removes
only the tumor and tissues around it. The second type is radiation therapy, which uses high-energy waves to kill cancer cells. The third type is chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill the cancer cells as well.
The last type is hormone therapy, which uses drugs to prevent the estrogen hormone (one of the main hormones responsible for breast cancer) from motivating the cells to grow.
Finally, whether you’re in the prevention stage, diagnosed with breast cancer, or a breast cancer survivor, always know that you’re not alone, and that there will always be hope, just keep on fighting.
This is for everyone reading this; knowing it exists is not enough. So, get informed, help others get educated, and pass it on.