What Is Breast Cancer?

A tumor in the breast that is malignant is breast cancer. Breast cancer is common among women, and in rare cases can also occur in men. Cells in all parts of the body including the breast, grows and rests, in cycles. The growth and rest cycles are controlled by the genes. When there is an abnormality in the genes, it looses control of the cell growth and this gives rise to cancer. The cancer forms in the tissue of the tubes that carries milk to the breasts. The term Carcinoma in situ is used for the early stages of cancer – in situ means that the cancer remains confined to a layer of cells.

However, to understand about breast cancer one needs to know about the anatomy of the breasts. And since it is more common in women, we need to concentrate on the formation of a women?s breast. The female breast consists of milk producing glands which are known as lobules. Tiny tubes or ducts carry the milk from the lobules to the nipples and the stroma, which are fatty tissue and connective tissue surrounding the ducts and lobules, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.

Most cancers start from the cells that line the duct, some in the cells that line the lobules and often in other tissue too.

A collection of immune system cells formed in the shape of small beans are connected to the lymphatic vessels, which are like small veins. These veins carry a clear fluid away from the breast, instead of blood. Lymph consists of immune cells, tissue fluid and waste products. It is in the lymphatic vessels that cancer cells can enter and they can grow in the lymph nodes. Most lymphatic vessels in the breast connect to lymph nodes which are located under the arm and some are connected to either above or below the collar bone.

Breast cancers can be detected early with periodic mammograms, even prior to a lump being detected. However, every lump is not cancerous, but every lump should be sent for observation and a biopsy done to find out whether it is cancerous or not. One in eight women are affected by breast cancer!

Just prior to periods the breasts may be lumpy and there may also be a discharge from the nipple. These are called fibrocystic changes. There may be abnormal growths such as fibroadenomas or intraductual papillomas. Women with such conditions may also be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

There are less common breast cancers which are known as inflammatory breast cancers that accounts for about 1{abffe3e1318a9624791ae4064333f2f75374704dc13d09152fd440b16c9e1c0c} to 3{abffe3e1318a9624791ae4064333f2f75374704dc13d09152fd440b16c9e1c0c} of all breast cancers. These cancers do not have a lump or a tumor but instead, the skin of the breast will be warm and red and the skin will have a thick pitted appearance. The cancerous breast may also be larger, firmer, tender or itchy. This may not appear in a mammogram and therefore will be difficult to detect early. The chances of this form of cancer spreading to other parts of the body are also high.

There may also be a combination of breast cancer in one person, such as a combination of invasive ductal cancer and lobular breast cancer. There are many other cancers and most of them, if detected early can be controlled.