Breast cancer


The aim is to assess a complete knowledge about breast cancer as it is incredibly important and also for early detection as “Early detection is the key to Prevention.

This article will go through the following points:

What is breast cancer?

  • Signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
  • Progression and stages of breast cancer.
  • Risk factors that you cannot change.
  • Risk factors that you can change.
  • Screening
  • Treatment

Statistics says, if you are a woman, you have 1 out of 8 chance to get breast cancer.So, it is very important to check  your breast regularly and for that, breast self-examination is very important to know what an individual’s breast actually looks like- its actual shape, size, colour, and contour.

What is breast cancer ? 

Cancer that is formed in the cells of breast is known as the breast cancer. It is the disease in which some of the cells in the breast begin to grow uncontrollably invading the surrounding tissues. Breasts are paired structures located on the chest beneath the skin. Outside the breast is nipple, surrounded by dark circle areola, large network of lymph nodes and vessels around the breast.

Breast are present both in male and female but prominent in female, made up of fatty tissue, memory gland, and ducts Fluids get drained from breast to lymph nodes.

Most of the breast cancer starts in ducts of breast but can grow in any other part. Cancer cells can grow, multiply and from cancerous tumours and spread to the lymph nodes.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

In early stages there may be no symptoms in directing breast cancer but as the cancer grows, there are changes that both women and men should watch out for:-

  1. Lumps or mass or swelling
  2. Skin irritation
  3. Change in size or shape
  4. Change in colour or feel of the skin and there might be scaly nipple.
  5. Nipple discharge, erosion ,tenderness, inversion of nipples.

If you found any of such symptoms then you should consult your doctor as soon as possible since early finding has as much of 78% of survival rate.

Progression and stages of breast cancer

Stages of breast cancer refers to extent of the disease. It is based on the several factors including

1. Size of tumour

2. Lymph node involvement

3. Invasive or non invasive

4. If spread to areas beyond breast

Stage 0 non invasive breast cancer
Stage 1

early stage of invasive breast cancer

Tumour no larger than the size of 2 cm in diameter

no evidence of Cancer cells spread beyond breast

Stage 2

Stage 2A 

Invasive breast cancer

Tumour more than the size of 2 cm in diameter spread to lymph nodes under the arm  Or between  2-5 cm but do  not spread to the lymph nodes

Stage 2B

Tumour is either between 225 cm, spread to under arm lymph nodes


tumour is larger than 5 cm but has not spread to underarm lymph nodes


Stage 3

Locally advanced cancer

Stage 3A

No larger than 5 cm in diameter but has spread to under arm lymph nodes growing into each other and forming clumps

Larger than 5 cm diameter and under arm lymph nodes are not adhered to one another or any other tissue

Stage 3b

Tumour is of any size and has spread to the skin of breast or chest wall and may include lumps in skin of breast or swelling of the breast

Stage 3C

Tumour is of any size and has also spread to the lymph node areas Above and below the


chest wall

skin of breast

Stage 4 Distant Metastatic Cancer that means the cancer has spread to other organs of the body


Risk factors that you can’t change includes

  1. AGE: the chance of getting breast cancer raises as a women gets older
  2. GENES: there are two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 that greatly increase the risk of testing positive for women who have family members with breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
  3. Personal fact: Onset of menstruation before the age of 12 or going through Menopause after the age of 55 years.
  4. Other risk being
  • overweight
  •  using hormone replacement therapy called menopausal therapy
  • taking birth control pills
  • drinking alcohol 
  • having child after 35 year of age

Risk factors that you can change

women who are not much physically active have higher risk of breast cancer

  1. Limit alcohol don’t use Tobacco
  2. Maintain healthy body weight
  3. Be physically active
  4. Limit post menstrual hormone therapy
  5. Protect yourself from Sun
  6. Get regular medical checkup
  7. Some cancer fighting foods that include
  • Vitamin D
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Cucumin
  • Folate rich food
  • Ginger

Breast self examination

Examine yourself once a month (4-5 days after your periods).

Menopausal women and pregnant women– examine your Breast on the same date every month.

Examine your Breast  in 5 steps

Step 1

Look for any change in your breast and nipples.

Observe shape, colour, size, and contour.

Step 2

stand in front of a mirror use your index, middle and ring finger for examination.

Gradually keep increasing the  pressure in a circular motion following a simple u shaped path

Motion should be

  1. up and down
  2. circular
  3. Wedge

Start from the armpit move to your  bra line then onto your breast- bone and finally to the collarbone to complete the examination.

Check yourself in different positions- use the right hand to check your left breast and left hand to check your right breast.

Step 3

look out for

1. lumps                        2. swelling

3. thickening              4. dimpling

5. discharge by squeezing nipples

6. persistent pain      7. loss of contour

8. redness                    9.puckering

Step 4 Any changes must be reported to your doctor as early as possible
Step 5 for women over 50 years routine check for Mammogram is important since only early detection saves lives



In an attempt to achieve early diagnosis for early treatment to achieve high recovery rate, screening is very necessary.

Mammography – a technique that involves X-rays of breast, is done in screening



Biopsy– for further laboratory examinations.


1. Surgery : Surgeries depend upon the size and the location of tumour which includes:


Total or simple mastectomy

Modified radical mastectomy

2. Radiation therapy : This therapy includes the radiations to kill the cancerous cells or keep them from growing it includes

External beam radiation

Internal Radiation therapy

3. Chemotherapy : This therapy includes certain drugs to kill the cancer

4. Hormone therapy : Studies have shown that females who get approx 5 years of hormonal treatment with tamoxifen as a medical procedure for beginning phase ER-positive breast tumours have diminished dangers of breast tumour growth repeat, and decreased danger of death at 15 years.

4. Targeted therapy

5. Immunotherapy

Combination strategiesimmunotoxins  immunorestoration, adjuvant, and contrasuppression are suggested for breast cancer.

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