Breast cancer is a kind of cancer that develops from breast cells. The vast majority of breast cancer cases occur in females. This article by Dr. C.N Mohanan Nair, Cancer specialist, focuses on the breast cancer in women and various treatment options available for the cure.
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among the women worldwide. There were an estimated 1.7 million new cases of and 5 million deaths from breast cancer in 2014. Breast cancer accounts for 27% of all newly occurring cancers worldwide and approximately 15% of all cancer deaths in 2014. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime in low and middle income Health countries. There have been rising incidents of breast cancer due to increasing life expectancy, urbanization, and adoption of western lifestyles. There are over 1.15 lakhs new breast cancer cases reported every year in India.
Breast cancer is not a new disease. It has been known as long as history has been recorded. Herodotus in his “History” described Atossa (wife of Darius, King of Persia) having Breast Cancer from which she died in 400 BC.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast Cancer is a tumor within the breast. The majority of breast cancer begins in the milk duct. It can also arise in milk sac. Breasts are made up of tiny sacs (glands) which produce milk after child birth. The glands empty in to the duct which leads to the nipples – and milk is secreted through the nipple. The Breast are supported by ligaments (cord like structure) and muscles attached to the chest wall.
All breast lumps cannot be considered as cancer since most lumps are benign (non cancerous). They may be a cyst (cavity) containing fluid or growth from the supporting tissues which can be easily treated.
Causes and Factors
The causes of breast cancer is multi-factorials involving endocrine gland reproductive factors including nulliparity, first birth after 30 years, lack of breast feeding and lifestyle factors. High calorie diet, lack of exercise, consumption of alcoholic beverages, overweight and obesity, use of certain contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. Every woman has the chance of developing breast Cancer during her life time. But there are some risk factors associated with breast Cancer. Those who have got the following risk factors have a higher risk for developing the disease.
Age is a factor for breast cancer development. The incidence of breast cancer increases with the age of the women. There is a steep rise in incidence from the age of 40 to 50. Women who start menstruating early in life (less than 12 years of age) and women who have a late menopause (after 52 years) also have an increased risk.
The incidence of breast cancer is higher in those who eat a high fat diet and low fiber diet. The young women taking the PILL with high levels of Oestrogen for more than eight years may have an increased risk for the development of breast cancer.