Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Its risk increases as the age advances and the average age at which carcinoma of the breast is detected is around 60 years. The incidence of breast cancer is higher in America and Europe. Carcinoma of the breast may arise from any part of the breast including the lobes, ducts, fat, lymph tissue and the blood vessels. Carcinoma of the breast arising from a duct is called ductal carcinoma while that arising from a lobe (or lobule) is called lobular carcinoma. Carcinomas of the breast are divided into two major groups, i.e. non-invasive carcinomas and invasive (infiltrating) carcinomas. Non-invasive breast carcinomas include ductal carcinoma in situ, lobular carcinoma in situ and Pagetâ€™s disease of nipple. Invasive breast carcinomas include invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, medullary carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, comedocarcinoma, inflammatory carcinoma, secretory carcinoma and adenoid cystic carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common cancer of the breast.
Studies have shown that the women, who had early menarche or late menopause, have much higher risk of breast carcinoma due to hormonal factors. It has been observed that there is a higher incidence of the breast carcinoma in those women, who had their first full term pregnancy after the age of 35 years, but lactation has a protective role. A positive family history of the breast carcinoma is a major risk factor. The risk of breast carcinoma is much higher in the woman, whose mother or sister had suffered from the breast carcinoma before menopause. Other risk factors include consumption of alcohol & high fat diet, obesity and exposure to radiation.
Breast carcinoma usually presents as a single, non-tender, firm to hard lump with ill-defined margins. There may be skin retraction, nipple retraction, nipple discharge and enlarged axillary lymph nodes. The breast may become enlarged and tender. Sometimes, the tumour gets fixed to the skin or the chest wall. Carcinoma of the breast usually metastasises to the bones, lungs, liver and the brain.
Staging of the breast carcinoma is done as follows:
In stage 0 of the breast carcinoma (carcinoma in situ), the tumour is in a very early non-invasive stage.
In stage I, the tumour is localised in the breast and measures less than 2 cm in size.
In stage II, the tumour is bigger than 5 cm in size without involving the axillary lymph nodes; or the tumour is smaller than 2 cm in size, but involves the axillary lymph nodes.
In stage III-A, the tumour is bigger than 5 cm in size along with involvement of the axillary lymph nodes.
In stage III-B, the breast carcinoma involves the chest wall.
In stage IV, the breast carcinoma metastasises to distant parts of the body such as the bones, lungs, liver and the brain.
Recurrent breast carcinoma is the one that reappears after an apparent recovery in response to the initial treatment.
Procedures used in diagnosis and evaluation of the breast carcinoma include self-examination of the breast, mammography, ultrasound, CT scan and biopsy. All women are advised to learn self-examination of the breast to detect the breast cancer at an early stage.
This content is for information and educational purposes only and should not be perceived as medical advice. Please consult a certified medical or healthcare professional before making any decision regarding your health using the content above.
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