Breast cancer occurs due to the irrepressible growth of cells in the breast that invades the nearby tissues and spreads throughout the body. These collections of irrepressible growth of tissue are called tumors or malignant tumors. However, not all tumors are cancerous.
Breast cancer has been diagnosed in large numbers in North America and Europe. In 2001, about 200,000 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States alone. Every woman has a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer, but the risk of dying from breast cancer is much lower, barely 1 in 28.
The risk of getting breast cancer is generally higher among older women, women with a family history or previous history of breast cancer, women who had radiation therapy in the chest region, women who started their periods before 12 years old, women who had menopause after 50 years old, women who never had children or had them age 30 or older, or women with genetic mutation. In recent times genetic mutations for breast cancer have become a hot topic of research.
The breast cancer tumor has the following symptoms: lump or thickening that appears on the breast or underarm, changes in the breast’s shape, nipple turned inwards followed by colorless discharge, red or scaled skin or nipple, or ridges on the breast skin.
If a woman experiences any of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean she has breast cancer. In such a case she should undergo a breast cancer personal check-up. It is estimated that 95% of breast cancer is detected through personal check-up. The breast cancer personal check-up includes checking for lumps in the breasts after each menstrual period, puckering the skin, and checking for nipple retraction or discharge. For consistent result, every woman should do a breast cancer personal check-up at the same time every month. Various other techniques such as mammography, thermography, ultrasonography, computerized tomography scan etc, can also help detect breast cancer.
Breast cancer treatments include surgery that removes cancerous tissues, with breast conservation therapy (BCT) being one such surgery. Other breast cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and biologic therapy. Radiotherapy is a common breast cancer treatment, and radiation treatment and chemotherapy may follow surgery to ensure the destruction of the stray cancer cells.
Even after undergoing many or all of these breast cancer treatment measures, unfortunately almost half the women suffer from a recurrence of the disease.