About breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, while lung cancer remains the leading cause of death in both women and men. About 1% of all breast cancers occur in adult men.

The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown.

Older age and female hormones play a role in the appearance of breast cancer. Breast cancer is a disease common in women over 50 years of age. The risk of breast cancer in women between 30 and 40 is approximately 1 in 250 women, while women between 40 and 50 years is 1 in 70.

In early stage breast cancer is often detected by mammography before any symptoms appeare. The most common breast cancer symptom is painless breast lump. However, mammary nodes in breast cancer can also be painful.

Breast cancer symptoms include:

– A lump in the breast or armpit appeared recently

– Change in size or shape of breast

– Modification of the breast skin, such as a crease or stain

– Discharge or bleeding from the nipple

– Changes in nipple such as retraction or inversion

– Change in color or texture of the skin on the breast or darker skin around the nipple.

When breast cancer is suspected, a piece of tissue is taken for biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Obtaining tissue samples for biopsy can be performed through a needle inserted in the node or area that looks suspicious on mammography or by surgical removal of all suspicious areas. The tissue sample will be analyzed microscopically by a pathologist.

As breast cancer is detected early, the more easily it will de treated, with greater chances of success.

The most common method of detecting breast cancer include:

Mammography – Mammography is an X-ray that can often detect breast tumors that are too small to be palpated by the doctor. Doctors may recommend regular mammography, especially in women with risk factors for breast cancer. Usefulness of mammography varies depending on age. This is still debated by experts.

Clinical breast examination – This involves examination (inspection, palpation) of the breast and close nearby area.

Breast self-exam – This is a simple procedure to detect breast lump. Doctors disagree regarding the need for breast examination by women themselves. Studies have failed to show decrease in the number of deaths caused by breast cancer using this method.

Breast MRI – MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is more sensitive than mammography in detecting tumors in women with a family history of breast cancer.

Complications

Hair loss . Not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, and some women experience only a thinning of hair, visible only to themselves.

Lymphedema – swelling of the upper limb on the same side with the affected breast ; it is caused by surgery or radiotherapy. Does not appear in 100% of cases. The risk of lymphedema can be decreased by resting and protection from the affected upper limb.

Sleep disorders – lifestyle changes can be helpful, with a regular bedtime hour, light exercise during the day and avoiding sleep after eating.

Breast cancer diagnosis and need for treatment can be very stressful. A method of stress reduction may be discussing these issues with others. Can be a helpful and relaxation technique.

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