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Breast Cancer

 

Abnormal cell growth in an uncontrolled way in tissues of the breast is called breast cancer. It usually occurs in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple and lobules which are milk producing glands.

Causes
Causes for breast cancer are not known but some factors seem to put one at risk:

  • Advancing age
  • Heredity
  • Genetic defects
  • Radiation exposure
  • Early menstruation (before12 years)
  • Late menopause (after 55 years)
  • Exposure to cancer causing chemicals
  • Alcohol
  • First child birth after 30 years of age or not giving birth at all
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Obesity

Symptoms

  • Lumps in the breast or armpit
  • Swelling in the breast or armpit
  • Change in the size or  shape of the breast
  • Redness, dimpling or puckering of the breast
  • Discharge from the nipple

Treatment
Treatment varies from person to person and usually one or more of the following are used:

  • Chemotherapy medicines to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue
  • Surgery to remove cancerous tissue - a lumpectomy removes the breast lump; mastectomy removes all or part of the breast and surrounding area
  • Hormonal therapy to block certain hormones that fuel cancer growth
  • Biological therapies targeted at the factors helping the growth of cancer cells

Prevention
There is no prevention against breast cancer but risk can be reduced by avoiding the possible risk factors.