The tumor is the beginning stage of breast cancer. When the healthful cells in the breast grow in an uncontrollable way and moreover forms sheet or mass of cells which is known as tumor, the breast cancer is rooted in. A malignant cancerous tumor can spread and grow to other parts of the body as well. Whereas a benign tumor lacks the ability to spread but has the potential to grow.
When the breast cancer cells spread to the other body parts through the lymph vessels or blood vessels or cancer then it develops in other body parts. This process is called as metastasis. Regional lymph nodes are the most vulnerable cause for the breast cancer. The regional lymph nodes are found below the arms, above the collarbone, under the chest bone or in the neck. The common signs where the breast cancer spreads in the body is liver, bones, and lungs. In rare cases, it can victimize brain also. If cancer returns after the initial stage treatment, it may recur locally that is in the regional lymph nodes or the breast. It may recur anywhere else also in the body, it is known as distant metastases.
Types of breast cancer
Lobules or ducts are the sites where mostly breast cancer starts. The common type of breast cancers are lobular carcinoma and ductal carcinoma.
Ductal Carcinoma- The cells covering the milk ducts are the starting sites for this type of breast cancer and this has the major ratio of all of the breast cancers.
Ductal carcinoma in located (DCIS) – This is located inside the duct.
Infiltrating or Invasive ductal carcinoma – invasive cancer outspreads outside the duct.
Lobular carcinoma – Lobules are the sites where this type of cancer starts.
Lobular carcinoma is situated only in lobules. (LCIS) is generally not recommended as a cancer. However, if LCIS on one breast then the individual is prone to have invasive breast cancer in either breast.
Invasive or infiltrating lobular carcinoma – This type of cancer spreads outside the lobule.
Other types of breast cancers are
- Papillary breast cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Paget’s disease
The cause of breast cancer is still unknown.
Doctors suggest that abnormal growth of breast cells causes breast cancer. There is a formation of mass or lump of these abnormally growing cells due to the continuous accumulation of the cells. The cells spread to other body parts or through the breast to the lymph nodes.
Milk –producing ducts are the reasons where mostly breast cancer begins. It is called as invasive ductal carcinoma. The other type of breast cancer is called as invasive lobular carcinoma which begins in the glandular tissue which is called lobules or either tissue or cells in the breast.
Numerous factors like hormones, environment and lifestyle augment the risk of breast cancer. But it’s still a confusion that people who are safeguarded from the risk factors yet develop breast cancer while the other with the risk factors never suffer from these cancers disease.
The fundamental cause of breast cancer is the complex interaction of the genetic composition and the environmental factors.
Inherited breast cancer
Did You Know?
5 to 10 % of breast cancers are related to the gene mutations inherited through family generations.
The probability of breast cancer is caused by the inherited mutated genes. The common breast cancer genes are
1. BRCA1 Breast cancer gene 1
2. BRCA2 Breast cancer gene 2
Both are the possible risk factor of ovarian and breast cancer.
If any individual has the family history of cancers or in specific breast cancer then it would be a preferable recommendation of having a blood test to identify particular mutations in other genes or BRCA that are inherited in you.
Anything that makes you to face breast cancer is a risk factor of breast cancer. Having several risk factors of breast cancer or simply one does not mean that breast cancer will develop necessarily. Breast cancer develops in many women who are not prone to any risk factors at times.
Factors that are linked to the augmented breast cancer risk
1. Breast cancer in women – Women are more prone to develop this type of cancer as compared to men.
2. Age factor - The risk of breast cancer develops with the growing age.
3. Personal history related to breast cancer- If any individual had the cancer in one breast then the probability of developing breast cancer in the other one is likely increased.
4. Family History related to breast cancer- If any of your blood relation was diagnosed with breast cancer specifically at the young age you are also vulnerable to breast cancer. Yet, the majority ratio of the people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer has no record of this type of cancer in their family.
5. Genes which are inherited which augment the cancer risk- There is a possibility of passage of cancer-causing mutations from the parents to their children. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common examples of such genetic mutations. This gene magnify the risk of cancer particularly breast cancer but do not confirm the disease.
6. Exposure to radiations- If you have undergone radiation treatment in your childhood or young age or even adulthood then you are vulnerable to breast cancer.
7. Obesity- Obesity is also one of the major causes of breast cancer.
8. Beginning of menstrual cycle at young age – If the menstrual cycle begins before the age of 12 the risk of breast cancer increases.
9. Beginning the menopause at an old age- If your menopause occurs at an old age then you are prone to breast cancer.
10. First child at an old age- Giving birth to first child after the age of 30 also makes you vulnerable to breast cancer.
11. If you have never been pregnant- Women who had pregnancies are comparatively safe from the risk of breast cancer than the women never had any pregnancy.
12. Hormone therapy after menopause- Women who sort for hormone therapy medications which combine progesterone and estrogen to treat the symptoms and signs of menopause develops the breast cancer risk. The risk graph decreases with the avoidance of these medications.
13. Drinking alcohol – Alcohol augments the breast cancer risk.
Stages of Breast Cancer
There are 5 stages in breast cancer starting from stage 0 to stage IV. In stage 0 the cancer is non- invasive cancer which remains to the original location whereas till IV stage cancer becomes invasive in which it spreads through other body parts.
1. Stage 0 - It is basically describes as non-invasive breast cancer like DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ). This is the beginning stage of breast cancer so there is no evidence of the cancer cells or the abnormal non-cancerous cells which break out of the breast in the which is it was started neither it invades the neighboring healthy tissue.
2. Stage I marks the beginning of invasive breast cancer and it is further categorized into two subtypes
i. Stage IA
• Tumor grows up to 2cm
• No involvement of lymph nodes
• Cancer is limited to the breast
ii. Stage IB
• A group of breast cancer cells ranging from 0.2 mm to 2 mm are there in the lymph nodes.
• The size of the breast tumor is up to 2 cm.
3. Stage II
Stage II is divided into two subtypes i. Stage IIA
• No tumor in the breast.
• One to three axillary lymph nodes serves as cancer sites.
• Or lymph nodes which are located near the breast bones. (Diagnosed during the sentinel node biopsy).
2 cm long tumor or even smaller which outspreads to the axillary lymph nodes.
• The tumor length is more than 2 cm but smaller than 5 cm and which has not reached axillary lymph nodes.
ii. Stage IIB
• The tumor is longer than 2 cm but smaller than 5cm; breast cancer cells ranging between 0.2 -2 millimetres can be seen in the lymph nodes.
• The tumor in the range of 2 cms – 5cms, but the cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to the lymph nodes near the breast bone.
• The tumor could be larger than 5 cms but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
4. Stage III
Stage III is subdivided as IIIA, III-B, and III-C.
Stage III A sees the invasive breast cancer in any of the following ways:
• No tumor is seen in the breast or the tumor could be of any size, but cancer is prominent in 4-9 axillary lymph nodes or in the area near the breastbone.
• The tumor is larger than 5 cms; groups of breast cancer cells are also visible in the lymph nodes; these cells are in the range of 0.2 -2 millimetres.
• The tumor is larger than 5 cms and the cancer has already spread to 1-3 axillary lymph nodes or to the nodes near the breastbone.
Stage IIIB sees the invasive breast cancer as:
• The tumor could be of any size but has already spread to the chest wall or the skin of the breast causing ulcer or swelling
• Could have gone to almost 9 axillary lymph nodes
• Could have spread to the lymph near the breastbones.
This stage is also referred to as the early stages of inflammatory breast cancer showing signs as:
• Breast skin turning red.
• Swelling of the breast
• Spreading of Cancer cells
Stage IIIC, the invasive breast cancer can have the following symptoms:
• There may not be any signs of cancer in the breast or the tumor could be of any size but it may have spared to the chest wall.
• Cancer might have spread to 10 or more lymph nodes.
• Cancer might have spread to the axillary nodes near the breast bones.
5. Stage IV
Stage IV is that stage of the breast cancer where it has already gone beyond the breast and the nearby lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of the body like lungs, skin, distant lymph nodes or the brain.
This stage is often termed as ‘advanced’ and ‘metastatic’ and is often the recurrence of the previous breast cancer case.
TNM Staging system
This is yet another method used by the researchers to describe the behaviour of the cancer. It stands for Tumor, Node, and Metastasis. The doctor does mention about the TNM staging, but the numerical staging is often the easier way for the patient to understand.
The characteristics that frame the TNM:
• Size (T for tumor)
• Lymph node involvement (N for node)
• Metastasization (M- Metastasis) i.e. whether cancer has moved beyond the breast.
T gives us the size of the tumor:
• TX: Essential tumor can't be surveyed.
• T0: No proof of essential tumor.
• Tis: Carcinoma in situ (DCIS, LCIS, or Paget malady of the areola with no partner tumor mass)
• T1 (incorporates T1a, T1b, and T1c): Tumor is 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) or less over.
• T2: Tumor is more than 2 cm yet not more than 5 cm (2 inches) over.
• T3: Tumor is more than 5 cm over.
• T4 (incorporates T4a, T4b, T4c, and T4d) : Tumor of any size developing into the trunk divider then again skin. This incorporates incendiary breast growth.
N (close-by lymph node) classes
The letter N took after by a number from 0 to 3 shows whether the malignancy has spread to lymph hubs close to the breast and, assuming this is the case, what number of lymph hubs are influenced.
NX: Nearby lymph hubs can't be surveyed (for instance, on the off chance that they were expelled already).
N0: Cancer has not spread to adjacent lymph hubs.
N1: Cancers have spread to 1 to 3 axillary (underarm) lymph node(s), or potentially small measures of malignancy are found in inward mammary lymph hubs (those close to the breast bone) on sentinel lymph hub biopsy
N2: Cancer has spread to 4 to 9 lymph hubs under the arm, or malignancy has developed the interior mammary lymph hubs (either N2a or N2b, however not both).
• Malignancy has spread to at least 10 axillary lymph hubs, with no less than one range of malignancy spread more prominent than 2mm, OR
• Malignancy has spread to the lymph hubs under the neckline bone (infraclavicular hubs), with no less than one zone of growth spread more prominent than 2mm.
• Malignancy is found in no less than one axillary lymph hub (with no less than one range of cancer spread more prominent than 2 mm) and has augmented the inner mammary lymph hubs, OR
• The tumor has spread to at least 4 axillary lymph hubs (with no less than one region of tumor spread more prominent than 2 mm), and little measures of disease are found in interior mammary lymph hubs on sentinel lymph hub biopsy.
N3c: Malignancy has spread to the lymph hubs over the neckline bone (supraclavicular hubs) with no less than one zone of growth spread more prominent than 2mm.
M (metastasis) classes
The letter M took after by a 0 or 1 demonstrates whether the growth has spread to far off organs - for instance, the lungs or bones.
MX: Distant spread (metastasis) can't be surveyed.
M0: No far off spread is found on x-beams (or other imaging tests) or by physical exam.
M1: Cancer has spread to far off organs (regularly to the bones, lungs, cerebrum,
The lady or the woman can feel the first symptom herself. When she sees a lump in her breast, she should immediately consult the doctor, though many of these lumps are not cancerous. Other symptoms:
• Pain in the armpits or the breast not related to the menstrual periods
• Rashes around the nipples
• Redness of the breast
• Swelling or lumps in the armpits
• Discharge from one of the nipple
• Change in the size and shape of the nipple
• Scaling or flaking of the breast skin
The diagnosis of the breast cancer can be detected thorough many examination of the breasts by the expert. The ways and methods for the diagnosis:
Breast Examination: the expert or the physician needs to check both the breasts for the lumps and other abnormalities.
Mammogram: Mammography is recommended when the abnormalities are detected in the physical examination. It is used for breast cancer screening. It is also recommended on a routine basis once the woman reaches a particular age. However, there are certain restrictions on when the screening should start and how often it should take place.
2D mammograms combined with 3D mammograms: sometimes the 3D mammograms are used in collaboration with the 2D mammograms. This combination gives better results in the detection of the cancer. It also reduces the false positive recalls.
Ultrasound of the breast: the breast ultrasound helps the experts in analysing if the lump is a solid mass or fluid.
Biopsy: a small sample of a tissue is surgically removed from the breast and sent for examination and analysis for the proper diagnosis.
Breast MRI: though not very common, it is also a method for the diagnosis. A dye is injected into the patient’s body to know the extent of the cancer.
As against many other diseases that can be cured by an expert or a surgeon, the breast cancer is treated by a team of specialists. This team consists of an oncologist, radiologist, specialist cancer surgeon, specialist nurse, pathologist, radiologist, radiographer, and reconstructive surgeon. Sometimes the team may also include an occupational therapist, psychologist, dietician, and physical therapist.
The breast cancer treatment may include:
Radiation: The radiation therapy can be done in a controlled way to destroy the tumor. The type of breast cancer decides the type of the radiation to be given. It could be:
• Breast radiation therapy
• Chest wall radiation therapy
• Breast boost
• Lymph nodes radiation therapy
• Breast brachytherapy
Surgery: surgery is the way to remove the lump if at all they have formed in the breast or the armpits of the patient. Lumpectomy and mastectomy are the prevalent surgeries being done in such cases.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is advised when there are chances of the cancer spreading to other parts or in case there is the high risk of cancer recurrence. In the case of large tumors, chemotherapy is administered even before the surgery itself. Some symptoms of the cancer also get reduced by chemotherapy.
Biological treatment: Certain targeted drugs are administered to the patient to reduce the pains and control the spread of the cancer. Drugs like Trastuzumab (Herceptin), Lapatinib (Tykerb), Bevacizumab (Avastin) and Low-dose aspirin are used by the specialists.
Hormone Therapy: sometimes hormone therapy is also taken up for the treatment of breast cancer that is sensitive to hormones. Such cancer that is sensitive to hormones could be ER positive and PR positive cancers. These hormones go a long way to prevent recurrence of cancer. Generally hormone blocking therapy is used post-surgery; however, it may also be done before the surgery depending on the requirements.
Prevention of Breast cancer
- Breast cancer can, however, be prevented by adapting to the certain lifestyle by the women.
- Women who take up less or no alcohol are less prone to this cancer.
- Regular Physical exercises keeps you fit and lowers the risk
- Healthy well-balanced diet can reduce the chances of cancer.
- By limiting the post-menopausal hormone therapy, you also restrict the risk of breast cancer.
- Healthy bodyweight gives you a better chance of not having the cancer than the obese or overweighed women.
- Regular breast cancer screening tests should be done to diagnose the cancer at the earlier stages itself.
- Breastfeeding your children is a very common preventive technique to reduce the chances of breast cancer.
Home remedies for Breast Cancer
A balanced and healthy diet is a secret to controlling and prevent many of the diseases. So is the case with breast cancer. Many of our food items help in preventing cancer. Some of these are:
Garlic: the antibiotic properties of garlic helps in dealing with the infectious agents like bacteria, yeast, and fungi. The presence of alkyl sulphur compounds makes it a good anti-cancer agent. It causes the malignant cells to die out during apostosis. It is also said to activate the immune cells against the cancer cells. It is recommended to have garlic in the form of oil or powder or in the raw form as well.
Broccoli: Broccoli is a rich carrier of linamarase gene. When this gene is present inside the cancer cell, it breaks down the cell by turning into cyanide. Hence broccoli is highly recommended.
Grapes: the compound proanthocyanidins present in grapes reduces the estrogen production in the body. This is an effective treatment for the breast cancer. The hormone sensitive cancer tumors get affected by the extracts of grapes.
Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass taken raw or in the form of juice is said to reduce the growth of the cancer cells. It also enhances the immune system in the body and does away with the toxins and the waste products of the body.
Green Tea: The herbal green tea has the anti-inflammatory properties and is said to be very effective against the breast cancer.
Lignans: the lignin compounds are present in the seeds of sunflower, cashews, strawberries, flaxseed and peanuts. The estrogen-dependent tumor is slowed down by the compound. This should be taken as frequently as possible.
Regular exercise: a minimum of 1 hour should be devoted to exercising. Simple walking and activities should also work for people.
Beneficial diet: beneficial diet should be taken by the women. Vegetable protein, dietary fiber, vegetable fat, and nuts should be taken in proper quantities. In addition to these, vitamins and calcium should also be taken under the doctor’s prescriptions.
Harmful diet: diets of hot dogs, beef and lamb should be cut down. The risk of prostate and colon cancer is reduced by reducing the intake of such food.
However, the home remedies for breast cancer should be taken up in consultation with the doctor only.
When to call a doctor
Knowing how your breasts regularly look and feel is an essential piece of staying aware of your breast wellbeing. Discovering breast tumor as right on time as conceivable gives you a better shot of effective treatment. Be that as it may, realizing what to search for does not replace having general mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help discover breast disease in its initial stages, even before any manifestations show up. The most well-known indication of breast growth is another irregularity or mass. A simple, hard mass which has unpredictable edges will probably be harmful, yet breast cancers can be delicate or adjusted. They may be excruciating. Therefore, it is vital to have any new breast mass or protuberance or breast change checked by human services professional experienced in diagnosing breast illnesses.