Breast cancer occurs when breast cells develop mutations and begin to divide and multiply. People may first notice a lump in the breast, discoloration, texture changes, or other symptoms.
Cancer occurs when changes called mutations take place in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutations let the cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled way.
Breast cancer is cancer that develops in breast cells. Typically, the cancer forms in either the lobules or the ducts of the breast.
Lobules are the glands that produce milk, and ducts are the pathways that bring the milk from the glands to the nipple. Cancer can also occur in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue within your breast.
Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. Symptoms for the most common breast cancers include:
- a breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different from surrounding tissue and is new
- breast pain
- red or discolored, pitted skin on the breast
- swelling in all or part of your breast
- a nipple discharge other than breast milk
- bloody discharge from your nipple
- peeling, scaling, or flaking of skin on your nipple or breast
- a sudden, unexplained change in the shape or size of your breast
- inverted nipple
- changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts
- a lump or swelling under your arm
The exact cause is not known.
The risk factors include:
- Family history
- Hormonal changes
- Age -at more risk after 40 years of age
- Personal history of breast cancer: A cancer in one breast increases the chances of having cancer in the other breast
- Lifestyle, including excess of alcohol consumption
- Environmental factors, including exposure to radiations
- Obesity and over weight
- Menarche: having periods at younger age and menopause at an older age
- Pregnancy: Becoming pregnant at an older age or never being pregnant
Your breast cancer’s stage, how far it has invaded (if it has), and how big the tumor has grown all play a large part in determining what kind of treatment you’ll need.
To start, your doctor will determine your cancer’s size, stage, and grade. Your cancer’s grade describes how likely it is to grow and spread. After that, you can discuss your treatment options.
Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Many people have additional treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, or hormone therapy.