Breast Cancer Symptoms: Everything You Need to Know

Breast Cancer

Introduction

The smallest functional unit of a human body is a cell, and these cells combine to form tissues. Irregular growth of breast tissues leads to a tumor. This in turn leads to breast cancer. It is the most common type of cancer among women. 1 out of every 8 women is diagnosed with this cancer.

The symptoms could be recognized by a few people and some may even not. Some common symptoms are:

  • Pain — The breast or the nipple is scaly, puckered, or rigid. One may feel heaviness, aching, or burning sensations. Abnormal pull or retraction in the nipple is possible.
  • Changes — The skin could change color or may even start to peel off. Breasts could feel itchiness, lumpy, and could have also changed shape. Nipples could be facing inward or creased.
  • Discharge — Fluid substance (not milk) or bleeding from the nipple is possible. Any color from light yellow to green to black will be noticed. 
  •  

Types and Signs

The two basic types of cancer and their traits could be as follows:

1. Benign Breast Cancer:

Benign means not severe and this type is often considered non-cancerous. An abnormal swelling that doesn’t invade other parts is benignant cancer.

These are of three types based on the risk:

  • No increase
  • Slight increase
  • Moderate increase

The first two types are not risky and chances of metastasis are low. In Moderate increase type, the doctor recommends further mammography and MRI scans for treatment to lower the risks. 

Benign or non-invasive type of breast disease is caused due to:

1. Hormonal Shift

Hormonal medication like contraceptives and other hormone-regulating medicines can cause cancer. Natural hormonal changes like menstruation or pregnancy fall in this category. Consumption of caffeine products leads to hormonal fluctuation, which in turn leads to cancer. Symptoms could be swelling or discharge of fluids.

2. Fibrocystic changes

A lumpy cyst generation in the breasts occurs. This could lead to a tender texture in the region which could be painful. These changes are considered normal and a medical diagnosis could help.

3. Mastitis

A warm sensation or redness on the breast is a common symptom. It indicates infection in the breast tissues. Pain and swelling are major symptoms. This could be due to bacterial infection or strained milk ducts.

4. Fat Necrosis

Possible trauma caused to the breast tissue is known as fat necrosis. It can happen either due to some accidents or surgery. Exposure to harmful radiation is also a cause. It is benign and not very painful. But anxiety is one major symptom along with lump formation or discharge. 

5. Malignant Breast Cancer

It is the nasty type of cancer that spreads across the human body. Malignant Cancer strings along the key characteristics of cancer called metastasis i.e. it can spread to other cells and tissues. 

The cells that cause cancer in one part of the body can invade other parts. Although a breast cancer cell that has spread to the lung will still be known as a breast cancer cell. 

There are some invasive types of breast cancer, and they are as follows:

1. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) 

DCIS is rather a non-invasive, moderate increased type of cancer. Here the corrupt cells are present in the milk ducts. They do not spread in the adjacent region. DCIS is considered a stage 0 type cancer. The chance of survival is 99% if followed by proper diagnosis.

2. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

Often due to the invasion of Ductal Cancer, this invasive ductal cancer is caused. If DCIS is in moderate increase and not treated, it spreads. Almost 70-80% of breast cancer is an invasive type. The tumor is usually hard in texture and irregular. The spread of this depends upon the tumor type and the stage it has reached. 

3. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)

10-15% of the invasive breast cancer end up being lobular. Milk producing lobules are infected and the tumor seems to become quite firm. Prognosis depends on the cancer stage. The tumor type and the multiplication are quite different from the IDC type.

4. Tubular Carcinoma

The tumors are small and the cell takes the build of a tube-like structure called “tubules”. Hence, it is known as tubular carcinoma. It originates in the breast milk duct and spreads into the healthy tissue. The spread is quite slow and has a rare chance to spread into other parts of the body.

5. Mucinous (colloid) Carcinoma

The name suggests that it is a soft type of tumor and is again a rare type. This begins in the milk ducts and then slowly spreads around the breast region. The colloidal cancer rate is 2% of the total invasive breast cancer. It is found mostly among older women.

6. Carcinomas with medullary features

The younger women are prone to this type of cancer. Less than 1% of total invasive cancers are medullary breast cancer. The tumor is soft and the cells take the shape of a sheet.

7. Invasive papillary carcinoma

With less than a 1% rate, in papillary cancer, cells are in the shape of fingers. It leads to a soft tumor formation. Women tend to get diagnosed with this disease after their menopause phase of life. This an odd type of cancer and is sometimes considered benign as well.

Male Breast Cancer

It is very rare. But there is a chance that even males could end up being diagnosed with breast cancer. Unusual pain, changes to the nipple, and discharge of fluid are some common symptoms. Consulting a doctor is the first and most reliable option in case of any visible symptoms.

Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer

The following are common risk factors that can lead to breast cancer in men:

  • Liver disease can cause an abnormal reduction in male hormones and a spike in female hormones. Liver cirrhosis is one such condition.
  • Testicular diseases also prove to be a stepping stone for male breast cancer. Prostatectomy (prostate surgery) and orchitis (testicular inflammation) are 2 risk factors for male breast cancer to arise.
  • Estrogen exposure can also lead to male breast cancer. This usually occurs when a man’s medication consists of estrogen components to regulate bodily hormones.
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome is a genetic condition that is detected during the birth of a male child. It leads to abnormally high quantities of a specific chromosome and leads to testicular deformations. Due to this, men can produce lower amounts of male hormones (androgens) and greater amounts of estrogen-like female hormones.

Conclusion

Though cancer sounds like an unfortunate and fatal disease, patients have fought it through. The rate of breast cancer is approximately 12%. Visiting a physician during a rise in breast-related deformities or side effects is a must. Be it any of the above symptoms, there is no harm in getting yourself examined. One can resist the risk of reaching a later phase of cancer, that can be irreversible and lead to definite death.