Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer: Signs, Risk Factors and Self-Diagnosis


As per the World Health Organisation, in 2020, there were 685,000 deaths from breast cancer at the global level. It is estimated that in 2023, 43,170 women and 530 men will die of breast cancer. (Siegel et al.) Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. This article tells us more about the meaning of breast cancer and how patients can get an early diagnosis.

Meaning Of Breast Cancer 

Breast Cancer occurs when the cells of the breasts start to grow abnormally. These cells divide more quickly than healthy cells do and continue to accumulate and form a mass. These then spread to other parts of the body, and the cancer cells often begin in the milk-producing ducts or sometimes in the glandular tissues called lobules.

Doctors around the globe can agree to the fact that lifestyle factors like smoking, drinking, a high-fat diet, late nights, light rising, and a sedentary lifestyle are mainly responsible for this type of cancer. Doctors also estimate that 5 to 10 per cent of cancer cases are linked to gene mutations and passed on through the family genes. The well-known breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Breast Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Below are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

1. A lump or a thickening on the breast

2. A change in the shape, size, or appearance of the breast

3. Changes on the breast’s skin, such as a dimpling

4. An inverted nipple

5. Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented skin around the nipple or the breast skin

6. Pitting and redness of the skin which makes it look like an orange

Risk Factors

Below are the factors that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer:

1. Women have a chance of developing breast cancer more than men

2. The risk of getting breast cancer increases as the person grows older

3. If a person has breast cancer in one breast, they will most likely get cancer in other

4. In case the mother, sister, and daughter were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, the chances of the person getting diagnosed with breast cancer increases.

5. If a person has one of the cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, there might be chances of getting cancer.

6. In case a person receives radiation treatment as a child, they are at risk of getting cancer.

7. Obesity, getting periods at a younger age, beginning menopause at an older age, having kids after 30 and never having kids increase the chance of getting cancer. 

Self Diagnosis/ Breast Self Exam

A breast self-exam is a step-by-step method a person can use to examine their breast. Regularly looking and feeling the breast, the person can notice the changes and detect when something feels different. Below are steps on how a person can do a breast self-exam: 

1. Take off the shirt and bra and stand in front of a mirror.

2. Put the arms down by the sides and check for changes in breast shape, swelling, dimpling on the skin, and changes in the position of the nipples.

3. Raise the arms and look at the breasts again.

4. With the pads of the three fingers, check for any lumps, thick spots, and changes.

5. Check the area near the armpit and check the skin around the nipple.

In Conclusion

Breast cancer happens when lumps start to form in the cells of the breast. It happens due to cancer genes, a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, smoking, and a high-fat diet, among other things.

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