Breast cancer is a form of cancer that develops from breast tissue.
The female sex has a higher risk factor of developing breast cancer. Other risk factors may include :
Breast cancer can occur as a result of genes inherited from a patient’s parents. Research shows that 5-10% of cases can be the result of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes passed down from parents.
Breast cancer may present itself in the form of a lump in the breast, a red scaly patch of skin, alteration in the shape of a breast, dimpling of the skin, or excretion of fluid from the nipple. In some patients, especially for those with experiencing a distant spread of the disease, bone pain, yellow skin, shortness of breath, and swollen lymph nodes may be observed.
Often, breast cancer develops in cells from the lining of milk ducts (known as ductal carcinomas) and also in the lobules supplying the ducts with milk (known as lobular carcinomas).
From case history of patients, there are more than 18 confirmed sub-types of breast cancer. Some cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ, develop from pre-invasive lesions.
A biopsy of a breast lump is a method used to diagnose breast cancer. Once breast cancer is diagnosed in a patient, further tests will need to be conducted to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the breast. These tests will also determine the types of treatment best suited.
Mammography or breast cancer screening is another method of diagnosis for breast cancer and health authorities recommend screening every two years for women between 50 to 70 years of age.