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All You Need to Know About Breast Cancer: The Breast, Types, Signs and Symptoms, Stages and Treatment of Breast Cancer

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Cancer

Cancer is an abnormal proliferation of bodily cells that invades the tissues and negatively affects a person’s health. According to recent studies and research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is a worldwide illness that claims the lives of millions of people every year, accounting for 1 in 6 fatalities. Notably, more deaths from breast, lung, and prostate cancer have been documented than from any other type of cancer. Therefore, to lower the cancer death rate globally, substantial advocacy and analysis regarding the treatment and management of this life-threatening disease are required rather than an alternative. The World Health Organization devotes specific months and days entirely to educating people about a variety of terminal illnesses and infections.To this effect, the month of October is the worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Isn't that amazing?

It is with joy I dedicate this article to that call and towards educating millions of individuals (men, children, teenagers and women), especially women on the theme: Breast and Breast Cancer.

The month of October is the worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Isn't that amazing?

The Breast

The Breast what some may call the bust or boob is round-shaped, nicely toned glandular tissue that lies over the pectoral muscles of the chest. It composes of connective tissues, ligaments and fatty tissues, which help keep it in place as time revolves. These tissues are also responsible for the soft texture and varied size of either breast.

Both healthy women and men have different breasts which are slightly different in terms of structure. Women’s breasts are, of course, soft, and bouncy and often give the weird feeling that both will drop off your chests to the ground, especially those with heavy boobs. meanwhile, a man’s breasts seem normal and steady.

The Anatomy Of The Breast

Even though the anatomy of both sexes (males and females) is slightly distinct, it can’t be excluded from their general overview. According to WebMD, the breast of a woman is designed in such a way that it produces milk for breastfeeding and natural fatty tissues responsible for its soft texture and varied size. It serves the function of sexual arousal. The male’s breasts have no function except that they may have a pleasant look on a well-built chest for an athlete or gym freak.

The Female Breast Anatomy

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What we physically see as the breast is just two parts, the nipple (the centre part of the areola) and the Areola (the dark-coloured or slightly brown-coloured area of the skin surrounding the nipple). So, they are many parts of the breast which develop fully during puberty and each serves a special function.

1. Lobes

Each breast has 15-20 lobes that surround the nipple. They tuft out like soft spikes around the wheel of a vehicle.

2. Lobules

The lobules, also known as glandular tissues, are small sections found at the extreme of the lobes. Each lobule has a hollow sac (alveoli) responsible for milk production.

3. Mammary Duct

This is a network of tiny ducts that transport milk from the lobules to the centre of the dark area of the breast (nipple). It plays a vital role in determining the stage of breast cancer in a woman.

4. The Nipple

The mammary ducts connect to form a larger duct/tube that exits at the centre of the areola to form the nipple. It is made of a good number of nerves.

How do nerves work?

A nerve is a small internal structure that relays information and carries electrical impulses from one part of the body to another. This nerve is the cause of the sudden sexual arousal that occurs in females whenever the nipple is touched during sexual activity. Additionally, it assists with orgasm.

5. The Areola

As aforementioned, the areola is the dark-coloured area of the skin on the breast which surrounds the nipple.

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6. The Blood Vessels

These play a very vital role in circulating blood pumped out of the hearts to the different parts of the body, including the pectoral muscles and the breasts.

7. Lymph Nodes

This is an integral part of the breast - a collection of small nodes that contains a clear fluid which fights against infections of the breasts.

The Male Breast Anatomy

Tactically, the breast of a male stops growing after the release of testosterone (the male sexual hormone) during puberty. A man has a nipple and areola, but other parts of the breasts remain underdeveloped.

Now, one could easily identify the different parts of the breast and likewise their functions with this detailed explanation.

Breast Cancer

It would be nice to take a deep breath after reading this subtitle to cool your nerves and be ready for whatever this brings to your doorstep. It might be helpful!

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is characterized by the accelerated development and division of aberrant cells. One of the main reasons for death for women is this. One in 38 women will develop breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. According to research reported in Medical News Today in 2019, women between the ages of 20 and 39 are significantly more likely to develop breast cancer.

Are you aware that breast cancer is more common in Black Women? Why and how?

Notably, black women are more likely than women from any other race to pass away from breast cancer. Although there is no racism or discrimination against black people because of these differences, black people frequently experience social, economic, and financial status problems. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation made it abundantly obvious in a piece they published that the majority of black women have limited or no access to health care or insurance, which has an impact on their ability to get screened for, diagnose, and treat breast cancer. Most people simply keep dealing with their circumstances while calculating how much time they have left on earth to spend with their loved ones. Another convincing reason in favour of their predisposition to developing breast cancer is the fact that they are exposed to a lot of risk factors.

However, there has been a remarkable decline in breast cancer, all thanks to awareness and sensitization, early diagnosis, treatment, care and management of the breasts. There is still massive hope of drawing a thin line between the gap, which comes with hard work and caution.

Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is of different types and judged by the criteria of the location of cells affected and how aggressive the cancerous cells (tumour) grow.

  • Non-Invasive Breast Cancer

Stage 0 cancer, also known as non-invasive breast cancer, is the earliest stage of cancer. This type of cancer doesn’t show any symptoms because the tumours are very tiny and non-detectable.

  • Invasive Breast Cancer

This cancer type is aggressive in growth. It begins at a part of the breast often than the milk (mammary) duct and lobules before invading the surrounding tissues of one’s breasts. Doctors accord a maximum of 5 years to anyone with invasive breast cancer. Having invasive breast cancer may lead to cutting off the breast completely (mastectomy)

  • Ductal Carcinoma (In situ and Invasive)

Ductal Carcinoma is a cancer type that starts at the milk ducts. It could be other aggressive in growth and spread to other parts of the breast (invasive ductal carcinoma) or the tumour just multiplies on a spot (ductal carcinoma in situ). An individual with invasive ductal carcinoma has a 5-year survival rate of 86%.

  • Lobular Carcinoma (In situ and Invasive)

Just like ductal carcinoma, lobular carcinoma could be in situ or invasive. It begins at the milk ducts but has very slow growth. Anyone with invasive lobular carcinoma has a 5-year survival rate of 100% which is quite reasonable than other cancer types if treated early.

  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer

This is a rare breast cancer type. It is not detectable by a mammogram because instead of creating tumours, the cancerous cells block the lymph nodes at the armpits close to the breast, making the breast red, warm and puffed.

  • Metastatic Breast Cancer

This is an unusual breast cancer type. It may not cause detectable symptoms but progresses rapidly to other parts of the breast. It is an uncontrolled type of breast cancer. The lumps may affect the lungs, causing respiratory issues, the chest, the bones, the liver and even the brain.

The General Signs and Symptoms

Although Breast Lump or tumour is the most common symptom of breast cancer, it should not be used as genuine judgement because of misconceptions of breast lumps with breast cysts or breast abscesses. Thus, it is paramount to know other early signs and symptoms of this disease. They include:

  1. The thickening of the skin of the affected spot is different from other surrounding breast tissues.
  2. Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit
  3. Persistent aches in one breast
  4. The appearance of a rash around the nipple
  5. Colour changes in breast
  6. Changes in breast shape
  7. Itchy breasts
  8. Flaking/Peeling of skin around the nipple

Before seeing a doctor, if you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume you have breast cancer.

Stages of Breast Cancer

The cancerous cells progress in 5 stages

Stage 0

We also know this stage as Ductal Carcinoma in situ. At this stage, the tumour is within the mammary (milk) ducts. The tumour is very minute and hasn’t spread. Breast cancer at stage 0 is not detectable by a mammogram (a device used to diagnose breast cancer).

Stage 1

Visible signs and symptoms such as lumps may manifest at this phase because the cancerous cells are 2cm in width and haven’t affected the lymph nodes.

Stage 2

The cancerous cells are now in clusters about 2-5 cm in width. It has begun to spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 3

The tumour is beyond 5cm and has spread to a handful of lymph nodes. It is harder to treat but is curable. The probability of an individual with Stage 3 cancer contracting breast cancer again even after treatment is high.

Stage 4

The cancer cells are now beyond 5cm and have spread to vital organs of the body and sometimes the BRAIN. At this stage, a person may experience weight loss, consistent breast aches, loss of appetite and other severe symptoms.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

To properly diagnose breast cancer, a health professional, preferably a breast specialist, must carry out some diagnoses coupled with detailed tests. This is best achieved with a mammogram and breast biopsy.

1. Mammogram.

Mammograms are X-rays that help detect a tumour regardless of the size to determine how achievable its treatment would be.

2. Breast Biopsy

This involves taking a sample of the breast tissue for testing in the lab. Most doctors carry out breast biopsy after a mammogram session on a patient’s breast to determine if the cell is cancerous or not. Breast biopsy lasts for 15-20 minutes and the pain is minimal.

Can Breast Cancer Be Treated

Yes, it may! The treatment depends on what stage it is. Surgery coupled with chemotherapy is often the best treatment for breast cancer. Be rest assured that after a proper diagnosis, your doctor will discuss the various treatment options with you.

Surgery

The surgery could entail removing the entire breast to avoid a reoccurrence of the breast cancer (mastectomy) or removal of the tumour and surrounding tissues but leaving the breast (lumpectomy).

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves the use of chemicals to shrink the cancer cells before or after the medical practitioner (surgeon) performs the surgery.

Conclusively, if you are or are not a breast cancer victim, it is best to stay out of trouble by caring for your breasts. You can achieve this by practising healthy nutrition, carrying out Breast Self Examinations or visiting a health practitioner frequently to run a check-up. Your life is worth saving. Cheers!

Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign

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