Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. It starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control and form a tumour that can often be diagnosed through x-ray or felt a lump on the breast area. The tumour turns malignant if the cells invade the surrounding tissues or spread to other parts of the body. It generally happens to women, but men can get it, too.
It can begin to spread from any part of the breast. Although, in the majority of the cases, breast cancer starts in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal cancers). In some cases, cancer starts in the glands that make breast milk (lobular cancer).
There are also some other types of breast cancers that occur in other tissues of the breast. These are called Sarcomas and Lymphomas and are not really thought of as breast cancers.
Although, in most of the cases, breast cancer causes a lump. But it is not the case for every type of breast cancers. Those are associated with other symptoms.
Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in females worldwide. It accounts for 16% of all female cancers and 22.9% of invasive cancers in women. 18.2% of all cancer deaths worldwide, including both men and women, are from breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, 2,32,340 female breast cancers and 2,240 male breast cancers are reported in the USA each year, as well as about 39,620 deaths caused by the disease.
How does Breast Cancer happen?
Scientists and experts have conducted thorough studies on the causes of breast cancer. But they are yet to arrive at a definitive reason of developing breast cancer. However, several risk factors can impact on a woman’s likelihood of developing breast cancer. The risk factors include:
India is now witnessing more and more younger patients with breast cancer. According to HBCR data of 2007 to 2011, in most cities, about 50% patients detected with breast cancer are in the 25 to 50 years age group.
Breast cancer can occur genetically. Women who have a close relative or family member with breast or ovarian cancer are more likely to develop breast cancer. Women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a considerably higher risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.
Chances are, a woman with an earlier history of breast cancer or even non-invasive cancer can develop the disease again.
Even if a non-cancerous lump forms over a woman’s breast, it can possibly turn cancerous in future.
Women with more dense breast tissue have a greater chance of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer also depends on the oestrogen hormone exposure Women, whose period start before the age of 12 or who enter menopause at a later stage of above 55, are at more risk developing breast cancer because their bodies have been exposed to oestrogen for a longer time.
Obesity after menopause can be a major factor for developing breast cancer. In the case of obese menopausal women, there are higher levels of oestrogen.
There is also a theory by experts that suggests women who are taller than average, have a slightly high risk of developing breast cancer than those who are shorter than average. However, the reason is unknown.
The risk of developing breast cancer is high among women who consume alcohol regularly.
Undergoing X-rays and CT scans may raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer slightly. This is because their bodies get exposed to different radiations.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can be a significant reason for developing breast cancer.
Researchers have found out that certain jobs can be the cause of breast cancer for women. Women working the late night before her first pregnancy eventually have a higher risk of developing cancer. Canadian researchers found that certain jobs, especially those that bring the human body into contact with possible carcinogens and endocrine disruptors are linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Examples include bar/gambling, automotive plastics manufacturing, metalworking, food canning and agriculture.