Love Yourself Enough to Know BC101

Breast Health

Love Yourself Enough to Know BC 101

Knowing the Facts about Breast Cancer is very important; it can help you detect changes in your breast, help you decide when it may be time to see a physician and possibly help to increase your survival rate if diagnosed. Because breast cancer is becoming so prevalent, we have decided to provide you with just the facts about breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers.”

Current year estimates for breast cancer

The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for
2017 are:

  • About 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 63,410 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,610 women will die from breast cancer.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple). Another type of breast cancer is lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Invasive breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from where it began in the breast ducts or lobules to surrounding normal tissue. Breast cancer occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.

Breast cancer usually starts off in the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply them with milk. A malignant tumor can spread to other parts of the body. A breast cancer that started off in the lobules is known as lobular carcinoma, while one that developed from the ducts is called ductal carcinoma.

A mature human female's breast consists of fat, connective tissue and thousands of lobules - tiny glands which produce milk. The milk of a breastfeeding mother goes through tiny ducts (tubes) and is delivered through the nipple.

The breast, like any other part of the body, consists of billions of microscopic cells. These cells multiply in an orderly fashion - new cells are made to replace the ones that died.

In cancer, the cells multiply uncontrollably, and there are too many cells, progressively more and more than there should be.

Cancer that begins in the lactiferous duct (milk duct), known as ductal carcinoma, is the most common type. Cancer that begins in the lobules, known as lobular carcinoma, is much less common.

Some of the possible early signs of breast cancer

A symptom is only felt by the patient, and is described to the doctor or nurse, such as a headache or pain. A sign is something the patient and others can detect, for example, a rash or swelling.

The first symptoms of breast cancer are usually an area of thickened tissue in the woman's breast, or a lump. Most lumps are not cancerous; however, women should get them checked by a health care professional.

Breast cancer can spread when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph system and

are carried to other parts of the body.

The lymph system is a network of lymph (or lymphatic) vessels found throughout the body. The lymph vessels carry lymph fluid and connect lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped collections of immune system cells. Lymph vessels are like small veins, except that they carry a clear fluid called lymph (instead of blood) away from the breast. Lymph contains tissue fluid and waste products, as well as immune system cells. Breast cancer cells can enter lymph vessels and start to grow in lymph nodes. Most of the lymph vessels of the breast drain into:

  • Lymph nodes under the arm (axillary nodes).
  • Lymph nodes around the collar bone (supraclavicular and infraclavicular lymph nodes)
  • Lymph nodes inside the chest near the breast bone (internal mammary lymph nodes)

If cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that the cells could have traveled through the lymph system and spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body. The more lymph nodes with breast cancer cells, the more likely it is that the cancer may be found in other organs as well. Because of this, finding cancer in one or more lymph nodes often affects your treatment plan. Usually, surgery to remove one or more lymph nodes will be needed to know whether the cancer has spread.

Still, not all women with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases, and some women have no cancer cells in their lymph nodes and later develop metastases.

Breast Cancer Deaths

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. (Only lung cancer kills more women each year.) The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 37 (about 2.7%).

Death rates from breast cancer dropped from 1989 to 2007. Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women.

Knowing the facts about breast cancers helps to increase awareness, promotes breast health and can possibly increase survival chances if detected early. So please love yourself enough to know BC 101.

Sources: Medical News Today

American Cancer Society

National Breast Cancer Foundation


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