What is Breast Cancer

The female breasts are made of milk producing glands called lobules, ducts, and the fatty tissue and connective tissue surrounding the ducts and lobules. Most of the breast cancer starts at either the cells in the line of ducts, called ductal cancer or cells in the line of lobules, called lobular cancer. A very small percentage starts in any other tissue. The cancer cells in the breasts, often spread through lymphatic system of the breast. The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes, the small immune system cells that are connected through the lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessel’s function is to carry the clear fluid called lymph away from the breasts. It is the lymph that carries waste products, tissue fluid and immune cells in the breasts.

 The cancer cells starts to grow in the lymph nodes, once it enters the lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic vessels connect to the lymph nodes, either under the arm, inside the chest or above or below the collarbone. Most of the times, if the cancer is spread to the lymph nodes, it is more than likely to enter the bloodstream and spread or metasize to other organs of the body. Thus, the more number of lymph nodes are affected by cancer, the more is the chance of finding cancer in other parts of the body.

Breast lumps can found in the women’s breast, but not necessarily cancerous. Most of the breast lumps are result of abnormal tissue growth in the breasts which is neither cancerous nor spreads in the blood stream. But, the women with this kind of lumps are at a higher risk of growing cancer cells.

The cause of breast cancer is genetic abnormality which is either inherited by mother or father, or which has developed in the body due to aging process and unhealthy life style. For the ease of diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer is divided into stages. If the cancer cells are diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of complete cure are high. Breast cancer can be removed through surgery, followed by chemotherapy or radiation, or both. Surgery involves removal of the tumor with surrounding tissues and frequent biopsy. It may involve removal of full breast or a part of the breast. Chemotherapy, used for stage 2 to 4, is a prolonged medication (3-6 moths). This works by destroying the cancer cells by causing damage of DNA. These medicines have serious side effects as it also damages normal growth cells of the body. Radiotherapy is the process of exposing the cancer affected area to the radiation after the surgery is over. It destroys the micro cancer cells that escaped through the surgery. Radiations reduces the recurrence rate by 50%.

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