With over 1.46 million cases, cancer is the second most cause of mortality in India, after cardiovascular ideas. India has also witnessed a surge in breast cancer cases, affecting around one in 22 women. While ladies are predominantly affected by the disease, chronic cases of male breast cancer have also been reported (Male Pink). Breast cancer occurs due to abnormal growth in the cells, further accumulating to form a lump or a mass. These cells metastasize through the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Hormonal, lifestyle, and environmental factors contribute to the odds of breast cancer. Individuals with hereditary breast cancer have an increased risk for ovarian cancer and other cancers. Note that the risk of particular cancer accumulates over their lifetime.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 Gene Cancer Risks
A larger number of inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with mutations in two genes:
- BRCA2 (Breast cancer gene two) and BRCA1 (Breast cancer gene one).
- BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes help repair cell damage and boost breast, ovarian, and other cells' growth. However, when these genes contain mutations passed through generations, the genes are unlikely to function naturally.
- The chances of breast cancer (ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer in men) increase in case you have received a mutated copy of the gene from a parent
- If you have a BRCA2 or BRCA1 gene mutation, the chances of breast cancer increase, and one are likely to get by age eighty. Moreover, the risk also depends on the number of family members who have had breast cancer.
- The possibilities of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age increases.
Having a family history of breast cancer:
It is essential to understand that most women diagnosed with breast cancer do not hold a family history of the disease. But it is the women who have close blood relatives with breast cancer that have a higher risk. For instance:
- Having two first-degree relatives increases the odds by 3-fold.
- Someone who has a father or brother who has had breast cancer also has a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Having a personal history of breast cancer: Note that the risk is higher for younger women with breast cancer.
What are the signs of breast cancer:
The most noticeable breast cancer symptom is a new lump or a painless, hard mass and has irregular edges. However, breast cancers can be soft, tender, rounded, and painful. Additional signs of breast cancer include:
- Irritation in the skin
- Pain in breast or nipple(s)
- Retraction of the nipple(s)
- Thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
While breast cancer survival rates have increased, the number of deaths associated with this disease has declined. The survival rates increase due to earlier detection, and advanced personalized approach to treatment, and a better understanding of the disease. Therefore, it is necessary to watch out for the possible signs and symptoms of breast cancer and consult your medical professional in any query.
(Inputs By Dr Niti Raizada, Director - Medical Oncology and Hemato-Oncology- Fortis Cancer Institute)
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