You feel a mild soreness in the breast so you checked for lumps. You felt a little bump. The next best step is to consult a doctor, you might have breast cancer. Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts from the cells of the breast. Breast cancer occurs mainly in women but this does not mean that men are safe from this disease.
A woman’s breast is made up of lobules, which are glands that make the milk; ducts, which connect lobules to the nipples; fat and connective tissues; blood vessels; and lymph vessels. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts. It may also begin in the lobules and then spread to other tissues.
When one feels a lump in the breast, there is really no virtual worry because most lumps are benign which means that they are not cancerous. In fact, benign breast tumors are abnormal growths but do not really pose threats because they do not spread outside of the breast. However, some benign lumps increase the risk in having breast cancer.
Then there are lumps that are not really tumors at all which are often caused by fibrocystic changes — cysts are fluid-filled sacs while fibrosis is the formation of scar-like tissue. These changes can cause swelling of the breasts resulting to being lumpy and sometimes a fluid discharge from the nipples.
There are different types of breast cancer and knowing them will greatly help in assessing the disease.
Carcinoma in situ is a term used for early stage of breast cancer where the cancer cells are still confined to the place where it started. In particular, the cancer cells are confined in the lobules or the ducts, depending on where it started. The cancer cells have not gone into the fatty tissues in the breast nor spread to other organs of the body.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer. Similar with Carcinoma in situ, the cancer cells have spread through the walls of the duct into the fatty tissue of the breasts. Almost all women with breast cancer at this stage can be cured and the best way to find is through the use of mammogram.
Lobular carcinoma in situ is the condition which begins in the milk-making glands but does not go through the walls of the lobules. This is not a true cancer but this can increase the risk of a woman to have breast cancer later. For this very reason, it is of utmost importance for women with this type of condition to follow the guidelines for breast cancer.
Infiltrating (or invasive) ductal carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that starts in the milk passage, breaks through the duct walls, invades the fatty tissue of the breast then spread to other parts of the body. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
Infiltrating lobular carcinoma starts in the milk glands then travel to the other parts of the body.
As of now, there is no exact cause for breast cancer but there are certain factors that are linked to the disease. Some factors that cannot be controlled are age, gender, family history, personal history of breast cancer, and race. Factors such as not having children, birth control pills, diet, exercise, and alcohol are some of the factors that can be controlled which may lessen or heighten the risk of a woman to have breast cancer.
There are several tests that may confirm and disconfirm if you suspect breast cancer such as imaging tests which includes mammography, breast ultrasound, and ductogram and biopsy which includes fine needle aspiration biopsy, stereotactic core needle biopsy, and surgical biopsy.