The month of October has been designated “Pink Month” as part of a global campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer. Pink Month is a time when initiatives are made to inform those who are worried about the disease, including early detection and signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a yearly initiative to raise public awareness of the condition. It is important to include as many people as you can in the effort to raise money and awareness for life-saving research and support services. According to the 2019 National Cancer Registry, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women of all races, second only to non-melanoma skin cancer, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 27 in South Africa.
Where did Breast Cancer Awareness Month Start?
In 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month was established by the American Family Physicians, Cancer Care Inc., AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation, and a few other sponsors. The initial group to advocate for breast cancer was these sponsors. Corporations have gained prominence for branding and promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The NFL is an iconic business. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, players opted to wear pink uniforms instead of their customary colors. Since the NFL’s 2009 decision to collaborate with the American Cancer Society, breast cancer’s prominence has grown.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a condition in which the breast’s cells proliferate out of control. Breast cancer comes in several forms. Which breast cells develop into cancer determines the type of breast cancer. Different areas of the breast might give rise to breast cancer. There are three basic components of a breast: connective tissue, ducts, and lobules. The glands that generate milk are called lobules. Milk travels through tubes called ducts to the nipple. The connective tissue, which is made up of fatty and fibrous tissue, envelops and holds everything in place. The ducts or lobules are where most breast cancers start. Blood and lymph vessels are two ways that breast cancer can travel outside of the breast. Breast cancer is said to have metastasized when it spreads to other body regions.
Types of Breast Cancer
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a type of non-invasive cancer in which the lining of the breast milk duct has been found to contain abnormal cells. The surrounding breast tissue has not been invaded by the abnormal cells that have left the ducts. Ductal carcinoma in situ is a relatively curable, early-stage cancer that has the potential to spread to the breast tissue if ignored or undiagnosed.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
With invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), aberrant cancer cells that initially developed in the milk ducts have moved outside of the ducts and into other tissues of the breast. Cancer cells that are invasive can also spread to different body regions. Additionally known as infiltrative ductal carcinoma.IDC is the most common type of breast cancer, making up nearly 70- 80% of all breast cancer diagnoses.IDC is also the type of breast cancer that most commonly affects men.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ
A condition known as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) occurs when abnormal cells are discovered in the breast’s lobules. The surrounding breast tissue has not been invaded by the abnormal cells outside of the lobules.LCIS seldom develops into invasive carcinoma and is very curable. However, if you have LCIS in one breast, you’re more likely to get breast cancer in either breast.
Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer?
invasive breast cancer is cancer that spreads to nearby healthy tissue after starting in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Other regions of the body may potentially become infected through the lymphatic and blood systems. The second most typical kind of breast cancer is invasive lobular breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinomas make up more than 10% of all breast cancer cases. Despite being useful and significant, mammograms are less likely to identify invasive lobular breast cancer than other forms of breast cancer. An MRI may be required because invasive lobular cancer can often be difficult to see on a mammogram.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer
The three most prevalent types of receptors known to fuel the majority of breast cancer growth estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene are not present in the cancer tumor when breast cancer is diagnosed as triple negative. This indicates that tests for the hormone receptors HER-2, ER, and progesterone receptors on breast cancer cells have come back negative (PR).
Common treatments including hormone therapy and medications that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 are unsuccessful because the tumor cells lack the essential receptors. Chemotherapy is still a viable choice for treating triple-negative breast cancer. In fact, compared to many other cancers, triple-negative breast cancer might react to chemotherapy even better in its early stages.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Breast cancer that is inflamed is aggressive, quick-growing, and characterized by cancer cells invading the skin and lymphatic veins of the breast. It frequently results in no clear tumor or lump in the breast that can be felt and identified. However, symptoms start to show up when the lymph arteries are clogged by breast cancer cells.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer sometimes refers to metastatic breast cancer. Other body parts are now affected by the malignancy. Usually, the liver, bones, brain, and lungs are included in this.
Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Although it is uncommon because breast cancer is unrelated to the pregnancy, it is possible to receive a breast cancer diagnosis while you are pregnant. Because they are worried about the well-being of their unborn child, women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis while pregnant are under a great deal of added stress. Despite the fact that the situation can be traumatizing and highly challenging, there is still hope for both mother and child because of the many therapeutic choices accessible.It never hurts to double-check that your oncology team and the members of your obstetric care team are in regular contact with one another if you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with cancer. The treatment plan will be carefully crafted by your medical team to control breast cancer as effectively as possible while safeguarding your unborn child.
Myths about Breast cancer
Myth: only women can get breast cancer
1% of men are impacted by breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Organization. Although this may seem like a tiny amount, a lack of awareness among males could lead to a cancer diagnosis that is too late, making it more difficult to cure. Despite having a lower risk of developing breast cancer than women, Dr. Thebe says that men should be aware of the warning signs, which are frequently easier to identify and more obvious in males due to their tendency to have fewer breast tissues. Nipple bleeding, discomfort, and skin ulcers are a few of the typical symptoms for men. If you notice any of these signs, you should see a doctor for a diagnostic examination.
Myth: if the result of your mammogram screening was normal last year, you won’t need to have another screening the following year
An X-ray of the breast is used in mammography to look for breast cancer. According to Dr. Thebe, the outcomes of your mammogram won’t always be the same. “Each examination is based on your medical history and relates to different health-related risk factors you might have. Your doctor will determine the timing of your examination based on your individual risk factors; it might be in three or six years, depending on your requirements”. Risk factors can be things like a family history of cancer that runs through your genetics.
You are exposed to breast cancer as long as you have breast tissue. Dr. Thebe continues, “it is recommended that women from the age of 18 attend a clinical breast examination every one to three years, and women beyond 40 should go more frequently – on a yearly cycle. Monthly breast self-examination should be performed by both men and women to look for any physical or visual changes. Use your first three fingers to firmly (but softly) press the outer part of your right and left breast. The breast should be as flat on your chest as possible when you are lying down for optimum results. You should see a doctor if you see anything out of the ordinary because tumors do not necessarily need to be uncomfortable to be malignant.
Myth: there’s nothing you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer
“Although there have been no conclusions on the direct cause of breast cancer, it’s important to stay educated on the risk factors associated with breast cancer so you can take preventative measures,” says Dr. Thebe. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you minimise your risk of getting breast cancer: decrease your alcohol intake and exercise regularly to avoid obesity, as fat tissue may contribute to increases in estrogen levels, which could increase your risk of breast cancer,” adds Dr. Thebe.
Myth: breast implants can cause breast cancer
According to Dr. Thebe, “the direct cause of breast cancer has not yet been found, so there’s no conclusion that breast implants cause breast cancer.” But if you have breast implants, it can be difficult to check for any symptoms relating to breast cancer. This is because it can be harder to feel lumps via self-examination and because the X-rays used in mammograms cannot see through silicone or saline implants well enough to show the breast tissue under them.“If you have implants, ensure you inform the radiologist as they will have to go through a special screening process for you,” explains Dr. Thebe. As mentioned above, you can also perform a monthly breast self-examination to check for any anomalies. Check to see if your breasts have recovered from the procedure and that your surgeon has specified where the breast tissue begins and the surgery finishes (this helps distinguish between a lump and the implant).
Myth: if you don’t have a lump, there is no cancer
The majority of people frequently consider a lump in the breast to be the first indication of breast cancer, which might delay detection because a lump isn’t always obvious. One in six women with breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Organization, do not notice a lump, therefore “it’s important to be aware of other warning signs which are mainly visual changes,” explains Dr. Thebe. “Look out for signs like a red rash around the nipple area; change in size (one breast suddenly looks bigger than the other); discharge from the nipple area and inverted nipples,” she adds.
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