Cancer occurs when changes called mutations to take place in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutations let the cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled, chaotic way. The cells keep multiplying, producing copies that get progressively more abnormal. In most cases, the cell copies eventually form a tumor. Breast cancer is cancer that develops in breast cells. Typically, the cancer forms in either the lobules or the ducts of the breast. Lobules are the glands that produce milk, and ducts are the pathways that bring the milk from the glands to the nipple. Cancer can also occur in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue within your breast. The uncontrolled cancer cells often invade other healthy breast tissue and can travel to the lymph nodes under the arms. The lymph nodes are a primary pathway that helps the cancer cells move to other parts of the body.
In its early stages, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. In many cases, a tumor may be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can still be seen on a mammogram. If a tumor can be felt, the first sign is usually a new lump in the breast that was not there before. However, not all lumps are cancer.
Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. Symptoms of the most common breast cancers include:
- a breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different than surrounding tissue and has developed recently
- breast pain
- red, pitted skin over your entire breast
- swelling in all or part of your breast
- nipple discharge other than breast milk
- bloody discharge from your nipple
- peeling, scaling, or flaking of skin on your nipple or breast
- a sudden, unexplained change in the shape or size of your breast
- inverted nipple
- changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts
- a lump or swelling under your arm
When you’re told that you have breast cancer, it’s natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA.
Any affecting Organ:
Breast cancer that spreads out of the breast may spread to lymph nodes in the armpit nearest the breast affected by cancer (axillary lymph nodes). It can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs and liver.
Prevention / Treatment:
Lifestyle factors can affect your risk of breast cancer. For instance, women who are obese have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting more exercise could help you lose weight and lower your risk. Drinking too much alcohol also increases your risk. This is true for having two or more drinks per day, and for binge drinking. However, a recent study found that even one drink per day increases your risk of breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about what amount they recommend for you.