October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and nationwide various groups demonstrate their support of those currently facing or experiencing remission from breast cancer.
Female NASCAR racer Danica Patrick is showing her support this year by driving a pink car.. It is a friendly reminder to both men and women about the importance of breast health. Approximately 200,000 women and 1,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. No one wants to receive a diagnosis of “breast cancer”, but hearing those words no longer means an end. Understanding the types of breast cancer, knowing the symptoms and risk factors and researching treatment options can make dealing with a diagnosis manageable and beatable.
There are seven types of breast cancer. Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) is an early stage breast cancer confined to the inside of the ductal system. Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer accounting for 78% of all malignancies. it is cancer that has spread beyond the ductal system. Medullary Carcinoma accounts for 15% of all breast cancer types. It occurs most often in women in their late 40s and 50s. Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) usually appears as a slight thickening in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast. It represents about 5% of diagnosis. Tubular Carcinoma makes up about 2% of all breast cancer diagnosis. It is usually found in women aged 50 and above. Mucinous Carcinoma (Colloid) represents approximately 1 % to 2% of all breast cancers and is differentiated by mucous production. Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is a rare and very aggressive type of breast cancer that causes the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast to become blocked, causing the breast to become inflamed. IBC accounts for 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.
Although there are many types of breast cancer, the symptoms and risk factors are the same. The symptoms include a change in how the breast or nipple feels. There may be nipple tenderness, a lump or thickening in or near the breast or under the arm. A change in the appearance of the breast or nipple is another symptom. This could be a change in the size or shape of the breast or a nipple that is slightly inverted. It may also include a scaly, red or swollen breast or nipple. The third symptom is nipple discharge. One or both breasts may produce a nipple discharge, either spontaneously or when squeezing the nipples. It may look milky, or it may be yellow, green, brown or bloody. The consistency also varies from thick and sticky to thin and watery. However, It is important to note that these symptoms may also be signs of other conditions such as infection or injury. The risk factors for breast cancer include age, weight, diet and lifestyle, menstrual and reproductive history, family and medical history.
When breast cancer is detected at an early age of development, a number of effective treatment options are available. A patient and their physician will choose the treatment that is right for them. The basic treatment choices for breast cancer are surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy, not necessarily in that order. Local treatments such as breast surgery and radiation therapy are focused on the breast itself to remove or destroy the cancer cells confined to the breast. Systemic treatments such as chemotherapy and hormonal therapy aim to destroy the cancer cells that may have spread throughout the body. Though fighting breast cancer may be one of the toughest life challenges a person encounters, it is important to understand that no one has to face it alone.
Although there are many treatment options for breast cancer, early diagnosis is still the best way to cure the disease. Regular check-up with a physician, monthly breast self-exams and mammograms can make a big difference in the fight against breast cancer. Nearly 70% of all breast cancer is found through breast self-exam and with early detection, the 5-year survival rate is 98%. Mammograms are one of the best tools for early detection because they can show many cancers before they are felt. And remember, 8 out of 10 lumps are non cancerous.