Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the breast. The disease occurs most often in women, but it can affect male breast as well. A woman’s risk of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in her life is about 1 in 8 (12%). The exact causes of breast cancer are not known but there are many factors that are known to increase the risk of developing breast cancer.The discussion below focuses on women, as the cancer is more common in women compared with men.
Three main kinds of tissues present in the female breast are;
Breast cancer can develop in any of these tissues. Nevertheless, breast cancers mostly begin in the cells that line the ducts (ductal cancers) and less often in the cells that line the lobules (lobular cancers). Breast tumours can be benign or malignant.
Benign breast tumours: Most lumps or growths that start in the breast are not cancerous (benign). The most common breast lumps include benign breast tumours (such as fibro adenomas or intraductalpapillomas) and fibrocystic disease of the breast. In fibrocystic disease of the breast, the lump shows fibrosis and cysts. Fibrocystic changes can result in breast swelling and pain. The benign breast tumours such as fibro adenomas or intraductalpapillomas are not cancerous, but if these are present, they increase the risk of the development of breast cancer.
Breast carcinomas: A malignant tumour has the potential to grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). Several types of cancer can occur in the breast. Most breast cancers, however, are either ductal carcinomas or lobular carcinomas. Other types of breast cancer occur less commonly.
Breast cancer may be diagnosed during a regular health examination with the physician, self-examination of the breasts, mammography or when there are some breast symptoms. Treatment of breast cancer is decided based on the type of cancer and its stage (the extent of spread in the body). Your doctor can advise you regarding the best type of treatment for you.