Breast cancer characteristics

This article was endorsed by Irene Mazzuca - Doctor of Medicine from the University of Rome "La Sapienza"

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant pathology that affects the cells of the breast, so that they undergo uncontrolled growth. Cancer, in addition to destroying the tissues it affects, can spread throughout the body through the blood or lymph and metastasize elsewhere in the body.

Whom does breast cancer mainly affect?

Cancer, in addition to destroying the tissues it affects, can spread throughout the body through the blood or lymph, and metastasize to some other part of the body.

It is the main cause of death among women between the ages of 45 and 55. It mainly affects women, but in a much lower percentage, it can be seen in men.

Advanced age is a risk factor, as well as the white race.

Consequences of breast cancer

It is a type of cancer that, in addition to destroying the tissues of the breast, can spread throughout the body via blood or lymph, and can produce a metastasis in any other parts of the body.

Symptoms of breast cancer


It is a disease that affects mainly women, from 50 years old onwards

At first, it is asymptomatic in most cases. Other symptoms that may appear are:

  • Lumps under the skin that may hurt or not
  • Lumps in the armpits
  • Pain in the nipples
  • Nipples which secrete fluids
  • Irritated, tight or red breast skin
  • Breast skin of a different color
  • etc.

Causes of breast cancer

The causes of breast cancer are not known exactly. However, there are a number of risk factors that can predispose to the appearance of these tumors, although these factors actually influence a very low percentage, given that around 80% of diagnosed cases are not directly related to these risk factors. Among the main ones are:

  • Age: The risk of developing breast cancer increases as women get older.
  • Heredity: People with relatives who have suffered from this disease are more likely to develop breast cancer. This kinship can influence when it is direct, ie the patient was the mother, daughter or sister of the previous patient.

    Breast feeding

    Breastfeeding protects women against breast cancer

  • No children or no breastfeeding: Women who have not breastfed are more likely to suffer from this disease than those who have done it. Also women who had no offspring or who had her first after 30, are also more likely.
  • Menstruation: An advanced menstruation or a very late menopause are factors that influence the development of breast cancer.
  • Breast abnormalities: Those who have had a history of breast abnormalities are more likely to develop the disease.
  • Obesity and alcohol: There is a fairly demonstrated between obesity and the chances of developing breast cancer. Recent studies seem to suggest that there is a connection between the type of fat ingested and the disease, although this theory is not documented by sufficient scientific evidence. Alcohol is a proven risk factor.
  • Contraceptives and estrogen?: Prolonged use of contraceptives is not related to the development of this disease, however prolonged use of estrogen in menopausal women appears to be a risk factor.

Importance of early diagnosis of breast cancer

Since we do not know the real causes that determine the onset of the disease, the best prevention is early diagnosis.

Advanced detection when no metastasis has occurred, allows a cure in more than 90% of the cases.

How to detect a breast tumor early? :

Among the key measures we have to detect a tumor in the breast, there are the following:

  • Self-examination: women should perform a manual self-exam at least once a month. In this exploration the following should be taken into account: palpation of the chest and armpits for possible lumps in them, abnormal breast size, redness of the breasts skin, possible changes in the appearance of nipples and secretion from them, increase of their size, bleeding from the nipple or certain changes in its shape.
  • Mammograms and ultrasounds: Mammograms allow early detection of breast cancer (up to 90% of cases). An annual mammogram is recommended for people with risk factors. This should take place annually on any woman from the age of 50. If there are no risk factors, a mammogram should be performed every two years in women over 40 years of age.

The test consists in the realization of three X-ray images that offer a view of the front of the breast and their two sides. If we observe the presence of a lump, ultrasound can discover if the enlargement observed is solid or liquid, in the latter case it is normally a cyst.

  • Biopsies: These are the main methods used to extract a sample of the breast when the presence of a suspicious lump or malformation in the breast through mammography or ultrasound has been discovered.

Breast cancer treatment

For the treatment to follow of breast cancer, the size of the tumor, the possible metastasis and / or involvement of the lymph nodes, the aggressiveness and the histological characteristic of the mass are taken into account.

Surgery is usually used. This can affect only the tumor and a small part of the tissue that surrounds it. Other times the process will require more drastic interventions such as mastectomy, which involves removing the chest, part of the chest muscle, and the lymph nodes in the affected armpit.

Subsequently and / or previously, where appropriate, the patient may undergo radiotherapy, chemotherapy or hormone treatment.

punto rojo More information on breast cancer.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

7 July, 2020

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