Breast Cancer Facts

While breast cancer is a terrible disease that affects a vast cross-section of the population, few people know much information about exactly what causes the disease. In this article, we give basic facts of how breast cancer develops as well as some other basic information. Next time you see a pink breast cancer bracelet youll know a little about what they stand for.

Breast and Cancer Anatomy

To understand breast cancer fully, you need to understand the actual composition of breasts. Breasts are made of entities known as lobes. These lobes contain smaller ‘lobules, which are miniature lobes which contain glands that produce milk. When nursing, milk comes from the lobules and through ducts that bring the milk to the nipple.

Lymph nodes are also contained in the breast, which are used by the body to help expel harmful bacteria, cancerous cells, and other dangerous entities. Besides these basic parts, the rest of the breast is composed of fat tissue.

Cancer Cells

Now that you can see exactly what the breast is composed of, its time to discuss what causes cancerous cells to be created. Cancerous cells are formed when normal cells grow and divide improperly. This can be due to the creation of new cells when the body does not find them necessary or the extended life of old cells which were expected by the body to die. These unnecessary cells can sometimes split off and multiply, causing a growth or a tumor.

There are two types of tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors, while ominously named, are not cancerous. They are rarely life threatening and can usually be removed. Benign tumors tend to not spread to other parts of the body, making them easy to contain.

Malignant tumors, on the other hand, represent the formal term for cancer. The risks caused by these growths can be very dire; while they can often be removed, they are known to grow back. They can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body, causing immense trauma to your health.

How it Spreads

Breast cancer in itself usually begins in the lymph nodes of the breast. Breast cancer is one of the cancers that are known to spread throughout the body; the bones of the body, the liver, the lungs and the brain are some of the more common organs that breast cancer may spread to. When the cancer spreads, it does not form a new type of cancer it is a new infection of breast cancer, just in a different location of the body.

Breast cancer most commonly occurs in women who are over the age of 40. Younger women and even men can be afflicted with breast cancer, but those 40 and over need to take particular care. It is recommended by doctors for women 40 and up to get a mammogram once per year. Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer; if the cancer is allowed enough time to metastasize, it can be a much more serious problem to contain.

It is also advised to regularly get a breast exam; this is a quick 10 minute procedure which can be done by your doctor. In addition, you can perform self-exams in the home by following a few simple steps.

Common symptoms that may accompany breast cancer include a change in appearance of the breast or nipple. The nipple may be inverted, turning inwards towards the breast, or the breast may suddenly change shape or size. Nipple discharge is also a symptom of breast cancer. If you think these symptoms apply to you, seek a health care professionals opinion immediately.

Treatment

Breast cancer can be cured, but not to the same extent that you would cure any other disease, through sheer medication, treatments or therapy. The main way to “cure” breast cancer is to remove the tumor causing it and the adjacent diseased cells. The tumor is removed through surgery, known as mastectomy, whereas the remaining cancerous cells can be eliminated through several methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormonal treatments.

After the surgery is over and the doctors give you a green light for it, you may undergo a secondary breast restoration treatment that will correct the unpleasant aesthetical effects of the mastectomy.