Breast cancer is initiated when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control, invade the tissues nearby and potentially spread to other parts of the body. Malignant cancer tumors are harmful to the human body, but not all cancers are malignant. Some cancers are benign in that they do not spread or threaten life. Any breast tissue can form a cancer, but usually it comes from either the ducts or the glands.
The early stages of breast cancer may not have any symptoms. Diagnosis usually begins with a painless, one-sided lump which may discovered by the woman, her partner or her physician. In recent years, diagnosis has occurred as a result of suspicious findings from a routine screening mammogram accompanied by no symptoms. In more advanced cases, changes to the contour of the affected breast may occur.
As a tumor grows in size, it can produce a variety of symptoms, including:
Non controllable risk factors for breast cancer include :
Controllable risk factors for breast cancer :
American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines for early breast cancer detection.
The ACS recommends the following guidelines for finding breast cancer early in women without symptoms:
Mammogram : Women aged 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. While mammograms can miss some cancers, they are still a very good way to find breast cancer.
Clinical breast exam : Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular exam by a health expert preferably every 3 years. After the age of 40, women should have a breast exam by a health expert every year. It might be a good idea to have a CBE shortly before a mammogram. Women can use the exam to learn what their own breasts feel like.
The most important thing is to see your doctor right away if you notice any of these changes : a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk.