Know the basics

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow rapidly into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.

How common is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is very common in women.  It affects about 1 out of 8 women in their lives. It may be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are some signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer can cause many different symptoms. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:

  • A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue;
  • Bloody discharge from the nipple;
  • Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast;
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling;
  • A newly inverted nipple;
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin;
  • Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you detect any breast changes. It is important to do a self-breast examination regularly. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. If you have symptoms, do not wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor. Early detection gives you a higher chance of survival.

Know the causes

What causes Breast Cancer?

The causes of breast cancer are unknown. What is known is that the breast cells start to grow abnormally, which causes a lump in the breast. This lump of cells may spread to surround tissues and possible other parts of the body. There are risk factors that can increase your chances of getting breast cancer.

Doctors have estimated there is about 5-10% breast cancers that are linked to gene mutations, which is passed through generations of family. These genes have been identified to be gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). If you have a strong family history, you may want to get a blood test to detect for these genes.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for Breast Cancer?

There are many risk factors for (health condition), such as:

  • Older age is the main risk factor for most cancers. The chance of getting cancer increases as you get older.
  • A family history. This means if your first-degree relative (mother, daughter, or sister) have breast cancer.
  • Inherited changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes or in other genes that increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram.
  • Exposure of breast tissue to estrogen made by the body:
    • Menstruating at an early age.
    • Older age at first birth or never having given birth.
    • Starting menopause at a later age.
  • Taking hormones such as estrogen combined with progestin for symptoms of menopause.
  • Obesity.
  • A personal history of invasive breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.

How is Breast Cancer diagnosed?

Check with your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts. The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and history : An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Clinical breast exam: An exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
  • Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of both breasts. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
  • Blood chemistry studies : A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease.
  • Biopsy : The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. If a lump in the breast is found, a biopsy may be done. There are four types of biopsy used to check for breast cancer:
    • Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lump of tissue.
    • Incisional biopsy: The removal of part of a lump or a sample of tissue.
    • Core biopsy: The removal of tissue using a wide needle.
    • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: The removal of tissue or fluid, using a thin needle.

It is important to discuss any concerns you may have about your test with your doctor.

How is Breast Cancer treated?

Your doctor determines your breast cancer treatment options based on the following factors:

  • Type of breast cancer;
  • Stage of breast cancer;
  • Size of breast cancer;
  • If the cancer cells are sensitive to hormones;
  • Your overall health condition.

There are 5 types of standard treatments, which include the following:

  • Surgery:
    • Breast-conserving surgery, which is the removal of thesentinel lymph node during surgery
    • Total mastectomy, which is the removal the whole breast that has cancer.
    • Modified radical mastectomy, which is the removal the whole breast that has cancer, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles, and sometimes, part of thechest wall
  • Radiation therapy, which is a cancer treatment that uses high-energyx-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
  • Chemotherapy, which is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the cancer cells from growing. This may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor before removal. It can also be used after surgery to prevent the tumor from returning.
  • Hormone therapy, which is a cancer treatment to block the actions of hormones and stop the cancer from growing. This treatment is only effective for breast cancer that is sensitive to hormones. Your doctor will perform a test to determine your type of breast cancer.
  • Targeted therapy, whichis a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. These may include:
    • Monoclonal antibodies;
    • tyrosine kinase inhibitors;
    • cyclin-dependentkinase inhibitors.

You may need a combination of these therapies. Please discuss with your doctor the treatment options that is right for you.

Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage Breast Cancer?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with breast cancer:

  • Make healthier choices. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. You may want to think about reducing your alcohol intake or quitting smoking.
  • Eating right. Good nutrition is very important. It may be hard to keep your food down. Your treatment therapy may cause nausea or may change your sense of taste. It may help to eat smaller meals and several times a day.
  • Exercise regularly. Cancer can cause fatigue. The fatigue usually last long and doesn’t get better with rest. Getting regular exercise can help relieve your fatigue. You should start slow by taking short walks and find what is comfortable for you.

These lifestyle changes can help you manage and cope with your breast cancer.

If you have any questions, Please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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