Breast Cancer

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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. The morbidity of breast cancer is approximately 66 out of 10 000 inhabitants. The greatest morbidity of breast cancer is in the USA, Canada and Western Europe.

Causes

Like other cancers, breast cancer consists of uncontrolled cell growth. Injured genes of a cell in the breast start uncontrolled cell growth. These cells form a tumor, infiltrate neighboring tissues, reach blood and lymphatic vessels and metastasize. The tumor disrupts the metabolic balance and expends nutrients in the organism. There are usually several causes that start this process:

  • Gender. 99 percent of patients are women. However, men also might develop breast cancer.
  • Genetic factors. Some kinds of breast cancer are inherited (especially if a close relative up to 50 years had breast cancer).
  • A long period of estrogen: early menstruation and late menopause.
  • The probability of breast cancer increases in older patients.
  • The probability of breast cancer increases in women who have not given birth, or have given birth in older age; also, in women who have not breastfed.
  • Hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy.
  • Earlier breast cancers, earlier cancers of other localizations, radiotherapy.
  • Benign breast tumors sometimes become malignant.
  • Obesity, unhealthy nutrition.
  • Environmental pollution, estrogens in food (e.g. soya).

Signs and symptoms

There are no signs during the first stages of breast cancer. During stages III and IV, the patients fell exhausted and weak; some of them loose weight. In some cases the tumor might be palpated. The shape of the nipple might change, the nipple and breast skin might harden and deform (like a lemon peel). Later ulcers and abscesses might show up.  During last stages of breast cancer complications like fever and pain are common. The symptoms also depend on the metastasizing of the carcinoma.

Breast cancer classification includes staging (TNM), histological structure and receptor status (estrogen and progesterone receptors).  Treatment and prognosis depend on the type of breast cancer.

Diagnostics

Early diagnostics is crucial for good results. Every woman, especially older one must check regularly. Mammography is the main diagnostic method in breast cancer. Mammography is a roentgenological (X-ray) technique that is able to detect even small alterations.  Every woman in her 50ties is recommended to perform this test at least once in two years. Younger women have a decent alternative – breast echoscopy.  Breast cancer is verified by biopsy and histological analysis.

Treatment

The treatment of breast cancer is always individual, depending on the histological type, receptor status and stage of the breast cancer and the patient’s age and condition.  Carcinomas in stage I and II are usually operated radically. After the operation several chemotherapy courses or hormone therapy (if the carcinoma has estrogen or progesterone receptors) are added. During stages III and IV palliative surgery might be performed. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the main methods of treatment during these stages. Along with these techniques, symptomatic treatment is also performed.

Prognosis

Stages I and II and timely surgery usually lead to a good prognosis. Stages III and IV frequently have poor prognosis. Carcinomas with estrogen and progesterone receptors have better prognosis than others. Neglected cancer in younger women has the worst prognosis of all.

 

   

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