Breast cancer is a malignant growth of breast tissue affecting one in eight women. Breast cancer usually begins in the milk glands, milk ducts, fatty tissue or connective tissue. There are several types of breast cancer, each progressing differently.
In situ carcinoma is an early cancer
that has yet to spread to other parts of the body. In situ carcinoma accounts for 15 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed. Ductal carcinoma begins in the cells lining the ducts that bring milk to the nipple and accounts for more than three-fourths of breast cancer. This cancer usually is felt as a lump and may appear as minute calcium deposits on a mammogram. Lobular carcinoma begins in the milk-secreting glands of the breast but is otherwise fairly similar in its behavior to ductal carcinoma. Lobular cannot be felt or seen on a mammogram and usually develops before menopause.
Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Age-60 percent of breast cancers occur in women over age 60
- Previous breast, colon or ovarian cancer
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Obesity after menopause and alcohol use
- Menstruation before age 12; late menopause (after age 55); first pregnancy after age 30; no pregnancies
- Oral contraceptive use
A woman with breast cancer usually has no symptoms at the beginning of the illness. Commonly, however, the first symptom is swelling or a lump in the breast. Other symptoms include discomfort in the breast without pain, retraction of the nipple, pitted skin in the breast, abnormal nipple discharge and a lump or mass in the armpit.
Breast cancer can be properly treated if discovered early. Physicians recommend women have regular examinations (including conducting self-exams), eat a well-balanced diet and undergo annual mammograms.
- Androstenedione (Andro)
- DES / Diethylstilbestrol
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)