Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it’s far more common in women. Substantial support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped created advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease.
What are the types of breast cancer?
There are different types of breast cancer. The types are based on which breast cells turn into cancer. The types include:
- Ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. This is the most common type.
- Lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules. It is more often found in both breasts than other types of breast cancer.
- Inflammatory breast cancer, in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. The breast becomes warm, red, and swollen. This is a rare type.
- Paget’s disease of the breast, which is a cancer involving the skin of the nipple. It usually also affects the darker skin around the nipple. It is also rare.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a breast disease that may lead to invasive breast cancer. The cancer cells are only in the lining of the ducts, and have not spread to other tissues in the breast.
What are the treatments for breast cancer?
Treatments for breast cancer include:
- Surgery such as:
- A mastectomy, which removes the whole breast
- A lumpectomy to remove the cancer and some normal tissue around it, but not the breast itself
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy, which blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow
- Targeted therapy, which uses drugs or other substances that attack specific cancer cells with less harm to normal cells
Can breast cancer be prevented?
You may be able to help prevent breast cancer by making healthy lifestyle changes such as:
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol use
- Getting enough exercise
- Limiting your exposure to estrogen by:
- Breastfeeding your babies if you can
- Limiting hormone therapy
If you are at high risk, your health care provider may suggest that you take certain medicines to lower the risk. Some women at very high risk may decide to get a mastectomy (of their healthy breasts) to prevent breast cancer.
It’s also important to get regular mammograms. They may be able to identify breast cancer in the early stages, when it is easier to treat.
2020 & 2021 have been a powerful reminder that we are all in this together, and our choices and actions have the power to protect the most vulnerable among us in a big way. The same holds true when it comes to breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.
Disclaimer: Health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start, change or modify your medications, lifestyle or current treatment regimen.