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Breast cancer is the most prevalent disease among women, especially American women. It can be described as a form of cancer that develops in the cells of the breasts. Although it’s more common in women, breast cancer can also develop in men. Some of the signs and symptoms of cancer include a lump in the breast, alteration in the shape of the breast, abnormal secretions from the nipple, a newly inverted nipple, development of scaly patches of the skin. These malignant cells can also spread from the breast to other regions of the body, such as the bone, lymph nodes, lungs, liver and so on. Some of the risk factors of cancer include gender, obesity, lack of physical exercise, excessive consumption of alcohol, hormonal changes, and so on. Genetics is also another reason for the development of breast cancer. Some genes have been implicated in the development of this disease. Examples include BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Breast cancer mostly develops in the cells lining the milk ducts and the lobules that supply the milk. This disease is diagnosed by taking a biopsy of the lump and sending to the laboratory for evaluation. Other tests can also be carried, to test if cancer has spread beyond the breast, to other parts of the body. People who have a high risk of developing the disease are to go for regular check-ups. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. Scientists are presently working on ways of identifying and targeting breast cancer stem cells. These cancer stem cells are responsible for the uncontrolled growth of a tumor.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer?

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include the following;

  1. The breast may present with a change in size, shape, and
  2. The breast may become newly inverted.
  3. Peeling, scaling and crusting around the pigmented area of the skin surrounding the areola.
  4. Dimpling of the skin over the breast.
  5. Thickening of the tissues that surround the breast lump. This would feel different from the other parts of the breast.

When Is It Important To See A Doctor?

You should see a doctor if you notice any kind of lump, or skin changes in your breast, even if a recent mammogram shows that everything is normal with the breast. Only a physician can give an effective evaluation of the state of your health.

What Are The Causes Of Breast Cancer?

It’s possible for doctors to know when the tumor cells are developing. These cancer cells proliferate faster than normal cells. Their growth is uncontrolled. They are also capable of spreading from one part of the body to another. It has been discovered that hormones, lifestyle and environmental factors play an essential role in the development of breast cancer. Also, it has been discovered that about 10% of all breast cancer cases are inherited from parents. Also, genetics also play a part. Genetic mutations also contribute to the growth of the disease. BRCA1 and BRCA 2 are gene mutations that could lead to breast cancer.

What Are The Risk Factors Of Developing Breast Cancer?

Although the exact cause of breast cancer isn’t known yet, there are some factors that are responsible for the development of the disease. These factors make it more likely to develop the disease, Examples of such factors include the following;

  1. Gender: Studies have shown that women are more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
  2. Age: The risk of developing breast cancer, increases with age.
  3. Medical history: People with a history of conditions such as lobular carcinoma in situ, or atypical hyperplasia of the breast, have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  4. Family history: People that have a relative that has been affected by breast cancer have a high risk of developing breast cancer. Although, statistics have shown that the majority of people affected by this disease do not have any family history of breast cancer.
  5. Genetics: There are some gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two of the common gene mutations that could lead to the development of breast cancer. These genes largely increase the risk of having breast cancer.
  6. Age of delivering breast cancer: It has been discovered that women who give birth to their first child after the age of 30 have more chances of having breast cancer.
  7. Alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption surges the chances of developing breast cancer.
  8. Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Staying fit, and having a body mass index within the norm is a way of reducing the risks of having the disease.
  9. Menopause: The risk of developing breast cancer, increases after the age of menopause.

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How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

There are different ways of testing for breast cancer. Below are some of the ways;

  1. Breast examination: The physician would check the breast for the presence of lumps and also check the lymph nodes, for any inconsistencies.
  2. Mammogram: This is an X-ray of the breast. It’s a common method of screening for breast cancer. If breast cancer is suspected after this test, your physician may recommend a diagnostic mammogram to assess the abnormality further.
  3. Ultrasound: This is the process where sound waves are used to produce images of structures that are deep within the body. This method can be used to determine if a breast lump is a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst.
  4. Biopsy: This is the process where tissues of the breast are extracted, and tested for the presence of cancer cells.
  5. Magnetic resonance imaging


Stem Cell Therapy And Breast Cancer

Scientists are presently working on ways of identifying and targeting breast cancer stem cells. These cancer stem cells are responsible for the uncontrolled growth of a tumour. Success in this project would lead to the development of medications that would effectively treat breast cancer.

References (2018). – Breast Cancer Information and Awareness. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Mar. 2018].

Cuzick, J. (2000). Future possibilities in the prevention of breast cancer: Breast cancer prevention trials. Breast Cancer Research, 2(4).

Dontu, G. (2008). Breast cancer stem cell markers – the rocky road to clinical applications. Breast Cancer Research, 10(5).

Moriya, T. (2005). Diagnosis of non-palpable breast cancer (image-detected breast cancer). Breast Cancer, 12(4), pp.249-249.


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