Breast Cancer – Symptoms, Stages, Diagnosis, Treatment

breast cancer symptoms signs


When a group of cancer cells develops in breast tissues, breast cancer occurs. Among the different classes of this disease, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer. Its first impression starts from a duct inside the breast, which gradually travels to adjoining tissue. Ductal Carcinoma In S Situ, the earlier form of breast cancer, forms in a milk duct. However, it stays localized in one region with limited movement to other areas of the body. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is a type that forms in the milk production glands (lobules).


What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

A growth or lump in the breast or armpit is what individuals must look out for. If the breast loses its normal shape, bloody fluid leaks from the nipple; it is suggested to get a thorough check up done as soon as possible. Another common aspect of breast cancer is soreness in the breast or nipple, skin texture changes on the breast including small indentations and red splotches of dry skin. Symptoms also include shortness of breath with yellow-tinged skin along with enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit or bone pain in the neck area.


Breast Cancer Stages

The breast cancer stages are based on several factors including the size of the tumour, whether any lymph nodes are involved, if the cancer is invasive or non-invasive or if the cancer has spread to zones beyond the breast.

Stage zero is considered non-invasive breast cancer. In this stage there is no evidence that the cancer cells have spread into neighbouring breast tissue beyond the duct or lobule.

Stage one is considered an early stage of invasive breast cancer. When measured, the tumour is no more than 2 centimetres in diameter and there is no evidence that the cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.

Stage two is divided into subcategories of 2a and 2b. Stage 2a is invasive breast cancer where the tumour is either a maximum of 2 centimetres in diameter and has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or the tumour is between 2 and 5 centimetres in diameter but has not spread to any lymph nodes. Stage 2b is a little different where the tumour is either between two and five centimetres and has spread to underarm lymph nodes or the tumour is larger than five centimetres but has not spread to the underarm lymph nodes.

Stage three is considered a locally advanced cancer and is also divided into subcategories of 3a, 3b and 3c. There are two main scenarios that can occur with stage 3a breast cancer; one where the tumour is no larger than 5 centimetres in diameter but it has spread to underarm lymph nodes that are growing into each other forming clumps and the cancer may also have spread to the lymph nodes near the breastbone. The second scenario for stage 3a is very similar with the exception that the tumour is larger than five centimetres in diameter and that the underarm lymph nodes are not adhered to one another or other tissues unlike the other stages. In stage 3b the tumour may be any size and has spread into the skin of the breast or chest wall. This stage may also include lumps in the skin of the breast or swelling of the breasts. In stage 3c the tumour may be of any size and also may spread to lymph node areas above or below the clavicle the chest wall and/or the skin of the breast.

Stage four is known as distant metastatic cancer which means the cancer has spread to other organs and parts of the body.


Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A mammography method involves use of low-dose X-rays to view changes in breast tissue. A woman’s breasts consist of glandular tissue, ducts, fat connective tissue and blood vessels. Screening with mammograms must be performed yearly as a routine for women over 40 even if there are no symptoms related to the breast.

A mammography test is done for diagnosing breast cancer and is also known as breast cancer test. A diagnostic mammogram test is conducted if the mammogram screening displays an abnormality or if there are symptoms such as a breast lump or nipple discharge during a diagnostic mammogram. X-ray images are taken from different angles followed by an ultrasound.


Breast Cancer Treatment

Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy are some of the treatment options available for breast cancer. Depending on the severity of the cancer there are several surgical options like lumpectomy which removes the tumour and a small amount of neighbouring tissue. Mastectomies involve removing the entire breast and its tissues. The Radiation therapy treatment involves high-energy radiation to kill the cancer cells or to keep them from growing.

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