Breast cancer is the most frequent type of non-skin cancer and the most frequent cause of cancer death in women worldwide, and the second most frequent cause of cancer death in United States women.
After puberty, a woman’s breast consists of fat, connective tissue, and thousands of lobules, tiny glands that produce milk for breastfeeding. Tiny tubes, or ducts, carry the milk toward the nipple.
In cancer, the body’s cells multiply uncontrollably. It is the excessive cell growth that causes cancer.
Breast cancer can be:
- Ductal carcinoma: This begins in the milk duct and is the most common type.
- Lobular carcinoma: This starts in the lobules.
Invasive breast cancer is when the cancer cells break out from inside the lobules or ducts and invade nearby tissue, increasing the chance of spreading to other parts of the body.
Non-invasive breast cancer is when the cancer is still inside its place of origin and has not broken out. However, these cells can eventually develop into invasive breast cancer.
There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), and a new lump in the breast or underarm. If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.
Screening is of greatest value for patients who are most likely to develop breast cancer and for whom early treatment is more effective than later treatment in reducing mortality. Thus, it is important to determine a patient’s risk of developing breast cancer and use that information both to recommend the modality and frequency of screening and also to determine whether referrals are needed for genetic testing and for consideration of chemoprevention and/or prophylactic surgery.
An ultrasound recommended as a routine test to screen for breast cancer in the general population who do not have a lump.
A mammogram (“mammography”) is a breast X-ray. It is the best screening test for reducing the risk of dying from breast cancer.
Before the mammogram, you will be asked to undress from the waist up and wear a hospital gown. Each breast is X-rayed individually. The breast is flattened between two panels. This can be uncomfortable, but it only takes a few seconds. If possible, try to avoid scheduling your mammogram just before or during your menstrual period, when the breasts are more sensitive. Also, do not use underarm deodorant or powder on the day of your appointment.
The decision about whether or not to have a mammogram should be made by the woman, based on her personal values and advice from her clinician about risks and benefits. The risks and benefits of screening are related to a woman’s age; benefits, in terms of numbers of lives saved, are lower for younger women than older women because the incidence of breast cancer is lower.
in younger women, while the chances of having an abnormal mammogram that must be worked up are higher.
By Dr. Fatemeh Aghanasiri, M.D. (MCC) – Medicentres | Al Furjan, Motorcity