Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with its survival rate varying in different places widely.
The signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer usually include:
- A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
- Redness or pitting of the skin over the breast, like the skin of an orange
- Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
- Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
- Peeling, scaling or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
- A newly inverted nipple
The type of tissue where the symptoms of Breast Cancer arise determines how the cancer behaves and what treatments are most effective. Parts of the breast where cancer begins include:
- Milk ducts. Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of cancer forms in the lining of a milk duct within your breast. The ducts carry breast milk from the lobules, where it’s made, to the nipple. Ductal carcinoma can remain within the ducts as a noninvasive cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ) or it can break out of the ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma).
- Milk-producing lobules. Lobular carcinoma starts in the lobules of the breast, where breast milk is produced. When it breaks out of the lobules, it’s considered invasive lobular carcinoma. The lobules are connected to the ducts, which carry breast milk to the nipple.
- Connective tissues. Rarely, Breast Cancer can begin in the connective tissue that’s made up of muscles, fat and blood vessels. Cancer that begins in the connective tissue is called sarcoma. Examples of sarcomas that can occur in the breast include tumour and angiosarcoma.
When a sample of the Breast Cancer is examined under a microscope, the pathologists look for:
- Cancer cells with unique appearances. Some subtypes of Breast Cancer are named for the way they appear under the microscope. Subtypes include tubular, mucinous, medullary and papillary. Your subtype gives your doctor some clues about your prognosis and how your cells may respond to treatment.
- The degree of difference between the cancer cells and normal cells. How different your cancer cells look from normal cells is called the cancer’s grade. Breast Cancers are graded on a 1 to 3 scale, with grade 3 cancers being the most different looking and considered the most aggressive.
Most women with Breast Cancer will have some type of surgery to remove the tumour. Depending on the type of Breast Cancer and how advanced it is, you may need other types of treatment as well, either before or after surgery, or sometimes both. Surgery is less likely to be a main part of the treatment for more advanced Breast Cancers.
Typical treatment plans are based on the type of Breast Cancer, its stage, and any special situations:
Some treatments are called local therapies, meaning they treat the tumour without affecting the rest of the body. Types of local therapy used for breast cancer include:
- Radiation Therapy
These treatments are more likely to be useful for earlier stage (less advanced) cancers, although they might also be used in some other situations.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer can also be treated using drugs, which can be given by mouth or directly into the bloodstream. These are called systemic therapies because they can reach cancer cells anywhere in the body. Depending on the type of Breast Cancer, several different types of drugs might be used, including:
- Hormone Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
However, many women will get more than one type of treatment for their cancer.The treatment plan will depend on other factors as well, including overall health and personal preferences.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, please contact us and one of our Patient Representatives will help you weigh your treatment options at your earliest convenience.