What is breast cancer?
When the cells of the breast tissue grow at an abnormal rate and their growth cannot be controlled by the body’s immune system, it is called breast cancer. When the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, it is called metastasized breast cancer. Breast cancer and its complications can affect nearly every part of the body. Breast cancer affects men as well, but at far lower rates.
What are the five warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
The majority of breast cancer patients first seek diagnosis because of a lump on the breast. This is one of the five warning signs of breast cancer:
Breast lump: A hard, fixed mass or lump felt anywhere in the breast.
Changes to the nipple and the surrounding area: Changes in the nipple area, nipple retraction and inverted nipple are common warning signs of breast cancer. Bloody discharge from the nipple is another warning sign.
Change in color and/or thickening of skin on the breast: Any dimpling or thickening of breast skin that resembles an orange rind is a warning sign of breast cancer. If the breast skin changes color, typically to a pink or reddish hue that covers more than half the breast that may also be a warning sign.
A non-healing sore anywhere on the breast, including the nipple: A red, scaly, flaky nipple, and any persistent skin change, including blood or fluid from the nipple with non-healing sore, may be a warning sign of breast cancer
Swelling of axillary lymph nodes (lymph nodes in the armpit): Many patients who end up diagnosed with breast cancer have swelling of lymph nodes in the armpit, they may or may not have changes in the structure of the breast, but they come in for a consult because they feel lump under their arm. This may mean that cancer from the breast has traveled to the lymph nodes, and now there is lymph node invasion.
What are the different types of breast cancer?
Breast cancer usually begins either in glands that produce milk (called lobular carcinoma), or the ducts that carry it to the nipple (called ductal carcinoma). It can grow larger in the breast and spread to nearby lymph nodes or through your bloodstream to other organs.
The cancer may grow and invade other areas around your breast, such as your skin or chest wall. Different types of breast cancer grow and spread at different rates. Some take years to spread beyond your breast, while others grow and spread quickly.
There are several types of breast cancer, and they are broken into two main categories: “invasive” and “noninvasive,” (in situ). These two categories are used to describe the most common types of breast cancer, which include:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): DCIS is a noninvasive condition. With DCIS, the cancer cells are confined to the ducts in the breast, and have not invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): LCIS is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of breast. Like DCIS, the cancer cells do not invade the surrounding tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): It is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer begins in the milk producing ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once the breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissue.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: It first develops in breast’s tubes and invades nearby tissues.
- Paget disease of the nipple: This type of breast cancer begins in the ducts of the nipple, but as it grows, it begins to affect the skin and areola of the nipple.
- Phyllodes tumor: This very rare type of breast cancer grows in the connective tissue of the breast. Most of these tumors are benign, but some are cancerous.
- Angiosarcoma: This cancer that grows on the blood and lymph vessels in the breast.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Are The Five Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer Related Articles
Bone Marrow Transplantation for Breast CancerBone marrow transplantation is a treatment option for metastatic breast cancer. Check out the center below for more medical references on breast cancer, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Young Women & Breast CancerIs breast cancer genetic? Should I get tested for the BRCA gene? What every young women should know about breast cancer. Discover the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and other crucial breast cancer facts.
Where Breast Cancer SpreadsWhen breast cancer spreads, or metastasizes, it often goes to these five places: the lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs, and brain. See how breast cancer metastasis affects the body, possible symptoms, and treatment.
Breast Cancer SlidesLearn about breast cancer causes, symptoms, tests, recovery, and prevention. Discover the types of treatments such as surgery and drug therapies as well as the survival rate for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer QuizThis Breast Cancer Quiz features signs, symptoms, facts, causes, common forms, terms, risk factors, statistics, and more. Increase your awareness of breast cancer now!
Can a Weak Immune System Cause Cancer?Your immune system plays a vital role in maintaining your health. Although some cancers are caused by genetic mutations, some other factors like old age and a weakened immune system can also play a significant role in causing the disease.
Can Fibroadenomas Turn Into Breast Cancer?A fibroadenoma is the most common type of benign, non-cancerous lump of the breast. Although it is rare, complex fibroadenomas and phyllodes tumors have a chance to develop into malignant breast cancer.
Genetic Testing for Breast CancerIntensive genetic counseling is required before undergoing genetic tests for breast cancer. During this educational counseling session, the health care provider can fully explain the benefits and risks of genetic testing and answer any questions you may have. You will also be required to sign a consent form prior to participating in any genetic tests. The form is an agreement between you and your doctor, showing that you have discussed the test and how its results might affect your family.
Is a Breast Ultrasound or Mammogram Better?The breast cancer diagnostic test best suited to you depends on your age, your symptoms, and the structure of your breasts. As a rule of thumb, a breast ultrasound is more accurate in women younger than 45 years. A mammography is preferred in women older than 45 years.
Male Breast CancerMale breast cancer accounts for 1% of all breast cancers, and most cases are found in men between the ages of 60 and 70. A man's risk of developing breast cancer is one in 1,000. Signs and symptoms include a firm mass located below the nipple and skin changes around the nipple, including puckering, redness or scaling, retraction and ulceration of the nipple. Treatment depends upon staging and the health of the patient.
Radiation Therapy for Breast CancerRadiation therapy for breast cancer is a form of treatment that utilizes high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Check out the center below for more medical references on breast cancer, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
What Is the Difference Between a Radical Mastectomy and Modified Radical Mastectomy?In a radical mastectomy, the entire breast tissue along with the nipple, covering skin, lymph nodes (filter organs for harmful substances) in the armpit and chest wall muscle under the breast is removed. It is known as a standard treatment for breast cancer. In a modified radical mastectomy (MRM), the entire breast is removed, including the skin, areola (surrounding the nipple), nipple and most armpit lymph nodes. The underlying chest wall muscles (the pecs) will be left intact. Additionally, the skin covering the chest wall may or may not be removed.
Triple-Negative Breast CancerTriple-negative breast cancer is more common in Hispanic and African-American women. Signs and symptoms include a lump in the armpit or breast, nipple discharge and inversion, and changes in the breast's skin. Treatment may incorporate surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
What Age Should a Woman Get a Mammogram?Regular mammography (X-ray breast imaging) helps in detecting breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before a breast lump is noticeable in self-exam. Women should start getting a mammogram every year at age 45, assuming they have no risk factors that would require earlier screening, but may dial back to every couple years after 55 when the peak statistical risk of breast cancer has passed.