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Breast Cancer, Types, Causes and Treaments

Updated on June 5, 2017

What is Cancer

A lot of diseases exist in the world today among these are a set of related diseases called Cancer. It is a condition where body cells reproduce without stopping and may invade surrounding tissues or organs. Metastasis is a process where cancer cells spread to different parts of the body. Metastatic Cancer is cancer that spreads from one part where it first formed to other parts of the body.

What is Breast cancer?

Breast Cancer is cancer that affects the breast. It can be invasive (They are cancers that grow into normal healthy tissues) or non-invasive (They are cancers that do not grow into or invade normal tissues within or beyond the breast). Most breast cancers are invasive. It occurs mostly in women, and rarely in men. The rate of being infected with cancer increases with age. It affects mostly women over 40 years and above but it can also affect women below the age of 40. It also affects mostly men over 60 years but can also occur in young men. If it's detected in its early stages, there's a good chance of recovery.

Therefore, it's important that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always get any changes examined by their general practitioner.

Types of Breast Cancer

There are many types of breast cancer that can grow in different parts of the breast.

Breast cancer is classified into:

DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ)—This is cancer that develops in the ducts of the breast and has not developed the ability to spread outside the breast. It is called a non-invasive breast cancer because it has not spread beyond the milk duct into any normal surrounding tissue. A non-invasive cancer isn't threatening but having it can increase the risk of developing an invasive breast cancer later on. This type of breast cancer rarely shows as a breast lump and it is usually discovered by a process called mammography.

Mammogram Of A Breast

Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC)—This is the most common type of breast cancer which develops in the cells that line the breast ducts. It is called Invasive breast cancer because it has spread to other surrounding breast tissue and it can also spread to other body parts.

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)—This is another common type of breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma invasive. ILC refers to cancer that has broken through the wall of the lobule and begun to invade the tissues of the breast. It can also invade other body parts.

Inflammatory breast cancer—This is a rare form of breast cancer. It grows and spread quickly, with symptoms worsening within days or even hours. Its symptoms are reddening and swelling of the breast instead of a distinct lump, skin colour changes and feeling of ache or burns in the breast.

Paget's disease of the breast—This is a rare type of breast cancer that affects the nipples. It develops from the ducts (milk carrying tubes) for of the nipple and spread to the other parts of the nipple such as the nipple surface and the areola (dark skin that surrounds the nipple).

Men Breast Cancer—Breast cancer does not affect women only, it also affects men because men have breast tissue just like women but men are rarely affected. It grows in the small amount of breast tissue men have behind their nipples.

Oestrogen and Progesterone are hormones that make breast cancers grow rapidly. Most breast cancers are sensitive to hormones. Therefore, they are called hormone-sensitive breast cancers.

Bloodstream or the axillary lymph nodes (small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland) are the means through which breast cancer spread to other parts of the body.

Internal view of the breast

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

There are common symptoms of breast cancer, They Include:

  1. A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts.
  2. Discharge from either of your nipples, other than breast milk.
  3. A lump (area of thickened breast tissue found on the breast) or dimpling on the skin of your breasts.
  4. A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as nipples turning inwards—inverted nipples.
  5. A lump or swelling in either of your armpits.
  6. Feeling of pain in any part of the breast.
  7. Skin irritation, redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.

Sometimes, breast lumps that develop aren't cancerous. So, it is unlikely you have cancer but when you notice symptoms like this, you should visit your General Practitioner. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you should also visit your General Practitioner even when you do not have the symptoms because there are inherited genes such as mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 that can increase one's risk of cancer.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce tumor-suppressing proteins (Proteins that help repair damaged DNA). Proteins produced by Mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may not function correctly. Sometimes, these genes don’t produce protein at all. As a result of this, damaged DNA are not repaired.

How a Breast lump looks like

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Causes of Breast Cancer

There are various factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer but the exact causes of breast cancer aren't completely understood.

These Include:

  1. The risk of being infected with cancer increases with as one gets older.
  2. Earlier diagnosis of breast cancer such as benign breast lump.
  3. A Family history of breast cancer and mutated genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2)
  4. Damaged DNAs. Exposure to cancer-causing substances, such as the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and radiation such as ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the DNA.
  5. Errors that occur during cell division.
  6. Being extremely fat (obese) increases your risk of breast cancer.
  7. Beginning one's menstrual period at an early age (11/12 year) and Menopause from age 55 and above. These increase the risk of being infected with breast cancer.
  8. Tobacco and Alcohol intake also increase the risk of cancer.

A W.H.O research on cancer indicates that around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioural and dietary risks which are high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.

Treatment measures for Breast Cancer.

When treating breast cancer, we put two major factors into consideration—The type of cancer and whether it has spread within the breast or to other parts of the body. There are various treatment methods for cancer but the common ones are:

1. Surgery—the first treatment to try for solid tumour as they can be removed surgically.

2. Chemotherapy—This is the use of chemicals to kill cancer.

3. Radio-therapy—this is the controlled use of radiation (X-ray) to kill cancer.

4. Hormone-therapy- This is the use of drugs to lower level of production or block the actions of certain hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone in women.

5. There are other medicines that help stop breast cancer from growing—such as raloxifene, trastuzumab, and tamoxifen.

A recent research indicated “Low-Dose” Aspirin May Lower Risk of Breast Cancer by 20 Percent


Breast Cancer is the continuous growth of abnormal cells in the breast. It can be invasive or non-invasive. Women are at higher risk of being affected than men. Types of breast cancer are DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ), Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), inflammatory breast cancer, Paget's disease of the breast, and Men Breast Cancer. Common symptoms of breast cancer Includes change in the size/shape of one or both breasts, a change in appearance of your nipple, a lump/dimpling on the skin of your breasts, Discharge from either of your nipples, a lump or swelling in either of your armpits, Breast or nipple pain, and Skin irritation. If a type Cancer is detected in its early stages, there's a good chance of recovery. Cancer is discovered by a process called “mammography”. Various Causes of Cancer are Age, Family history, Obesity, Intake of tobacco and alcohol, Damaged DNA, Menstrual period and reproduction, etc. Cancer can be treated through Surgery, Chemotherapy, Hormone-therapy, Radiotherapy, etc.


If you have questions related to cancer, post it in the comment box. I would reply them ASAP

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      GetInformed 9 months ago from Nigeria


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      Hannah 9 months ago

      Wonderful! Very informative! :D