Breast Cancer: Treatment, Causes, Risk And Side Effects

Things You May Not Know About Breast Cancer But Should

  • Not only Women but Men also get the Cancer. 1 in 1000 Men can have Chest Cancer over the course of his lifetime.

           :- 40,000 Women and 440 Men died of this disease in 2015- American Cancer society

  • Not having a family history of Breast Cancer doesn’t mean you will remain unaffected. Only you are at lower risk.

           :- 85% of Women without any family history of Breast Cancers suffer from it- University of Utah

  • Over 2,20,000 American women are diagnosed with Breast cancers every year; the highest in the world.


What is Breast Cancer?

It is a malignant tumor that develops from the cells of the breast.

  • Tumour– A tumor is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells leading to their accumulation, resulting in a lump or mass. A tumor can be either Benign (Non-cancerous) or Malignant (Cancerous) depending on whether or not it has the property to metastasize.
  • Cancer Metastasis- The ability of cancer cells to break off from the malignant tumor and travel to other parts of the body with the lymphatic system or bloodstream to invade the healthy cells and tissues.

It is detected every 29 seconds around the world. In the US, it is every 2 minutes.

What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer?

Many types of this disease have been identified. These are determined by the type of breast cells affected.

It can be-

breast cancer type

More Commonly

  • A Carcinoma– tumors that develop in the epithelial cells (cells that line tissues and organs in the body).
  • Adenocarcinoma– tumors in the cells of glands. (milk ducts, milk-producing glands.


Less Commonly

  • Sarcomas
  • Phyllodes
  • Angiosarcomas
  • Paget disease

These cancers arise in the connective, muscle or fat tissue.

On the basis of the spread of Breast cancer to the surrounding Breast tissues, it can be termed as-

  • In Situ- These diseases do not spread to their neighboring tissues.
  • Invasive (infiltrating)- These cancers do invade the breast cells/tissues in proximity.


The most common Breast Cancers are-

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma

1 in 8 Women live with the risk of developing Invasive Breast Cancer in her lifetime-

Risks Factors

The exact cause as to what leads to the development of Breast Cancer has not yet fully known. It is again a mystery to the medical world. The changes that we experience are often the result of an interaction between our genetic makeup and the environment.

Here are the factors that even if cannot cause the Breast Cancer directly can still encourage it to happen indirectly.

Natural Risk Factors

  • Being a woman itself makes you more vulnerable to Breast Cancer.
  • Age- The risk bar rises as you get older.
  • Genetic Factor- BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can pose a risk if you have a family history of Breast Cancer.
  • Race– White women stand at higher risk than African-American women.
  • Menstruation– can be a risk factor for women,
    • if it started at a younger age (before turning 12), or
    • going through menopause after 55 years of age.


Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Obesity
  • Poor Diet
  • Smoking
  • Using Hormonal Replacement Therapy
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking birth control pills
  • Having children in life after 30 or 35
  • Lack of Physical Activity


Inconclusive Risk Factors

  • Use of Deodorants.
  • High intake of Caffeine.
  • Plastic surgery.

it is the second most common cancer after Skin Cancer that is diagnosed in American Women-

How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

  • Breast Exam- A doctor checks for the abnormal lumps or abnormalities in both of the breasts and lymph nodes in the armpit.
  • Mammogram- It is an X-ray of breasts to screen for Breast Cancer. If found, a diagnostic mammogram next helps to evaluate the abnormality.
  • Breast Ultrasound- Using the sound waves, the breast lump is detected and detailed out.
  • Biopsy- The Study of Breast cells gives the complete information at a cellular level- about the cancerous nature and type of cells involved, and aggressiveness of cancer.
  • Breast MRI- After injecting a dye, the magnet and radio waves do their spy work on you.

breast cancer diagonsed

Once this disease is diagnosed, the next objective is to determine its stage so that the appropriate treatment and therapy can be initiated.

Stages go from 0 to IV.

  • 0 indicates Non-invasive cancer within milk-ducts.
  • IV indicates Metastatic Breast Cancer that has spread to the other parts of the body.

   27% Survival rate in the advanced state, 98% Survival rate in early detection

 What Is Treatment?

The best treatment option for Breast Cancer is zeroed in on by the doctor after analyzing its-

  • Stage and Grade
  • Size
  • Sensitivity towards hormones


breast cancer Surgery

1. Lumpectomy

A procedure used for smaller tumors. It involves the surgical removal of a tumor and a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue. It is also called a Breast-sparing surgery.

2. Sentinel node biopsy

This procedure involves removing a limited number of lymph nodes lying in the immediate contact with a tumor, as a precautionary measure.

If those lymph nodes come out to be clean, the tumor is deemed to have not spread beyond. No more lymph nodes are needed to be removed.

3. Axillary lymph node dissection

If the Sentinel lymph nodes are found affected by cancer, removal of several lymph nodes thereafter from the armpit becomes an essentiality.

4. Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy

Women with cancer in one breast and backed by a strong family history or genetic predisposition may choose to have their another breast also removed to nullify the risk altogether.

5. Mastectomy

The simple mastectomy procedure removes all of the breast tissue that includes-

  • Lobules
  • Ducts
  • Fatty tissue
  • Areola
  • Nipple
  • Skin

Skin-sparing mastectomy lets the skin remain intact for reconstruction and appearance purposes.

Best Therapy For Breast Cancer

1. Radiation therapy

High-powered beams of energy like X-rays and protons are targeted at the cancerous cells to neutralize them.

It can be done by-

  • External beam radiation- aiming the energy beams at your body, or
  • Brachytherapy- by implanting a radioactive material inside your body.


  • Fatigue
  • Red, Sun-burn like rash
  • Swollen or firm breast tissue


2. Chemotherapy

This includes drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works in combination with other treatment options.

chemotherapy for bc

Chemotherapy is used in women-

  • Who have higher chances of cancer to return or to spread in the other parts of the body?
  • To shrink the larger breast tumors to be easily removed with surgery.
  • To control and decrease the symptoms when cancer has already spread to the other parts of the body.


  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hair-loss
  • Risk of developing infection


3. Hormone-blocking therapy

A beneficial approach to treat Breast cancers sensitive to hormones. It is used before/after surgery. In case cancer has spread, hormone therapy shrinks and controls it.

These cancers are referred as-

  • Estrogen receptor positive (ER positive)
  • Progesterone receptor positive (PR positive)


4. Hormone therapy works by any of the following ways-

  • Block hormones from attaching to cancer cells.
  • Stop body from making estrogen hormone after menopause.
  • Target and destroy estrogen receptors.
  • Stop hormone production in ovaries.

Good News! Breast Cancer’s Mortality Rate is going down since 1989. Thanks to Improved treatment & Early detection

Celebrities Who Suffer/ed From this disease

Illness doesn’t scare anyone on the basis of his/her reputation in the outside world. Also, a good genetic makeup is something that money can’t buy.

Here are some famous names who have gained a world-wide appreciation but yet couldn’t dodge the Breast Cancer.

  • Peter Criss, Male Musician of band KISS
  • Sheryl Crow, American singer-songwriter
  • Cynthia Nixon, American actress
  • Mumtaz, Indian actress
  • Barbara Mori, Indian actress (debuted in movie ‘Kites’)

Even after a head-on impact with the Breast cancer, these guys battled it out and became a source of inspiration for thousands who are going through the similar phase in their lives.

Angelina Jolie

I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.

Angelina Jolie on getting a double mastectomy

 You Want To Do Something To Stay Safe? Do This!

  • Take the morning sun-rays and Vit.D rich diet– It can lower the risk of cancer by over 25%.
  • Limit your red meat consumption– Large quantity intake may increase the cancer risk.
  • Cut back on your alcohol drinking.
  • A diet rich in fruits & vegetables and low in animal fat considerably lowers the chances of a Breast cancer.

There are over 2.9 million Breast Cancers survivors in the US- N.B.C Foundation, Inc

And, Finally The Myth Buster

Myth- I cannot get Breast Cancer at a younger age.

Fact- Even if you are young, the possibility to get diagnosed with this disease cannot be ruled out.

Myth- Alcohol intake isn’t linked to this Cancer.

Fact- Drinking alcohol increases the risk of this disease.

Myth- I didn’t have children; I can’t get Breast Cancer.

Fact- The risk is higher in women who have never had children or had them after 30.

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