What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the one that begins in the breast tissues or mammary glands.
There are two main types:
Ductal carcinoma which begins in the tubes (tubes) that carry milk from the breast to the nipple. The majority of breast cancers are of this type.
Lobular carcinoma that begins in parts of the breast, called lobules, which produce milk.
In rare cases, breast cancer can begin in other areas of the breast.
Risk factors that can't be changed include:
Age and sex. The risk of breast cancer increases as the person ages. Most cases of advanced breast cancer are found in women over 50 years old. Men can also suffer from breast cancer, but they are 100 times less likely than women to suffer from this type of cancer.
Family background. You have a higher risk of breast cancer if you have a close relative who has had this type of cancer, as well as uterine, ovarian or colon cancer.
Genetic disorder. The most common disorders are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes normally produce proteins that protect you from cancer. If one of the parents transmits a defective gene, you will have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women with one of these defects have up to an 80% chance of developing this cancer at some time in their life.
Menstrual cycle. Women who started their menstrual periods early (before age 12) or reached menopause late (after age 55) have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Other risk factors include:
Consumption of alcohol. The consumption of more than 1 or 2 glasses of alcohol a day can increase the risk of suffering from this cancer.
Birth. Women who have never had children or who had children just after age 30, have a higher risk of breast cancer. Being pregnant more than once or at a young age reduces the risk of suffering from this type of cancer.
DES. Women who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) to avoid abortion may have an increased risk of breast cancer after age 40. This drug was supplied to women between the 1940's and 1960's.
Hormonotherapy. You have an increased risk of breast cancer if you have received hormone therapy with estrogen for a few years or longer.
Obesity. It has been associated with breast cancer, although this link has not been fully understood. Experts think that obese women produce more estrogen, which can stimulate the onset of this cancer.
Radiation. If radiation therapy was received as a child or young adult to treat cancer of the chest area, there is a higher risk of developing breast cancer. The younger you were at the start of the radiation and the higher the dose, the greater the risk is. This is especially true if radiation therapy was administered during breast development.
Breast implants, the use of antiperspirants and the use of bras do not increase the risk of breast cancer. Nor is there any evidence of a direct link between breast cancer and pesticides.
Early breast cancer usually does not cause any symptoms; which is why regular breast exams are important. As the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
Breast tumor or tumor in the armpit, which gets hard, has irregular edges and usually does not hurt.
Change in the size, shape or texture of the breast or nipple. For example, you may have redness, holes, or puckering that looks like an orange peel.
Nipple fluid This can be bloody, clear to yellow or greenish, and look like pus.
In men, the symptoms of breast cancer include mammary tumor, as well as pain and tenderness in the breast.
The symptoms of advanced breast cancer can be the following:
Pain or discomfort in the breasts
Swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit (next to the breast with cancer)