Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the breast. It is the most common cancer among women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall. In this article, we will discuss the prevalence of breast cancer, its causes, symptoms, screening options, and treatment options in detail.
Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women and is one of the most common cancers globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer accounts for nearly 25% of all cancers in women. The prevalence of breast cancer increases with age, with most cases being diagnosed in women over the age of 50. In the United States, it is estimated that about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but certain risk factors have been identified that increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These risk factors include age, gender (being female), family history of breast cancer, genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2), obesity, alcohol consumption, and exposure to estrogen. Women who have a family history of breast cancer or carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Other factors, such as obesity and alcohol consumption, can also increase the risk of breast cancer by affecting the levels of hormones in the body.
Breast cancer can be asymptomatic in its early stages, which is why regular screening is important. However, some common symptoms of breast cancer include a lump or thickening in the breast that feels different from the surrounding tissue, changes in the size or shape of the breast, changes to the skin or nipples, and discharge from the nipple. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
Screening for breast cancer is the process of looking for cancer before there are any symptoms. Screening can help detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. There are several screening options available for breast cancer, including mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Mammography is the most common screening tool for breast cancer and involves taking X-rays of the breast. The X-rays produce images that can show any changes or abnormalities in the breast tissue. If a lump or other suspicious area is found, a biopsy may be recommended to determine if it is cancerous.
- Ultrasound is another screening option for breast cancer. It uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. Ultrasound is often used in conjunction with mammography to help determine if a suspicious area is solid or filled with fluid.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another option for breast cancer screening. MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the breast tissue. It is often used in women who have a high risk of breast cancer, such as those who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations.
The treatment for breast cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the individual’s overall health. Common treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used.
- Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer and can involve either removing the entire breast (mastectomy) or just the cancerous tissue (lumpectomy). The type of surgery recommended will depend on the size and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health.
- Radiation therapy involves using high-energy X-rays to kill the cancer cells and shrink the tumor. It is usually used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
- Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with other treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Chemotherapy can be given through a vein or orally, and may cause side effects such as fatigue, nausea, and hair loss.
- Hormone therapy is a treatment that works by blocking the hormones that help the cancer cells grow. This type of therapy is often used in breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive, meaning that they need hormones like estrogen to grow.
- Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that targets specific proteins or genes in the cancer cells to stop the cancer from growing. This type of therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
In conclusion, breast cancer is a common type of cancer that affects millions of women worldwide. Regular screening and early detection are crucial in helping to increase the chances of successful treatment. If you have any concerns or symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor. A combination of treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy, may be used to effectively treat breast cancer. With the right treatment and care, many women with breast cancer can recover and go on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
About The Author
Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines.
Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives.