Medically reviewed by Dr. Sylvia Krueger
Despite breast cancer being one of the most commonly recognized forms of cancer, much of that familiarity is cut short after identifying the name and the region of the body it affects. Understanding what breast cancer is, as well as statistics and treatment methods can better equip patients to feel confident in their decisions when weighing options for care. It’s also important for friends and family to be knowledgeable about various aspects of the cancer when taking on a supportive role.
With over 200,000 diagnoses in America every year, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, with around 1 in every 8 women developing breast cancer at some point throughout their lifetime, though the disease isn’t limited to females. Men can be affected by breast cancer as well, even though the disease tends to be 100 times less common in males.
Each breast cancer begins when a tumor, or abnormal lump, develops within the breast tissue due to overproduction of cells. The cancer forms in the lobules, or ducts of the breast, resulting in ductal carcinoma. When the disease begins to metastasize, or grow, and affect other areas of the body, as well as surrounding tissue, it is referred to as invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). IDC is the most common form of breast cancer, representing about 80% of patients affected by the illness. On the other hand, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) refers to type of breast cancer that does not progress to other areas.
Symptoms pertaining to breast cancer can vary depending on the patient’s age, sex, and general health. The most common signs tend to result in things such as a lump/ misshape in the breast or abnormal, and sometimes bloody, discharge from the nipple. Paying attention to warning signals and notifying your doctor if you start experiencing any of these differences can oftentimes determine early intervention and your options for care.
Exams like mammographies, molecular breast imaging, and breast magnetic resonance imaging (BMRI), can officially determine if a patient has ductal carcinoma. Once breast cancer has been detected, depending on the stage and type, there are various treatment methods that can be recommended by your oncologist such as:
- Targeted therapy
- Surgery (sential lymph node biopsy, lumpectomy, mastectomy)
- Hormone therapy
Though many theories used to reduce the risk of breast cancer haven’t been proven, there are numerous studies linking physical activity, diet and other health habits to the prevention of ductal carcinoma. For those who may be prone to breast cancer due to family history and unhealthy habits, things like preventative operations and medical drugs are becoming a more common option regarding the avoidance of breast cancer.
Thanks to routine breast exams, mammography screenings and annual physical exams performed by your primary care physician, it’s not uncommon for breast cancer to be detected in its most early stages. Modern medicine is increasing the survival rate of this disease each year, and with the help of the right support system and team of medical professionals, Tennessee Oncology anticipates even greater success stories now more than ever.
For more information on treatment and prevention methods regarding breast cancer and other illnesses, please contact your local professionals at Tennessee Oncology.