Breast Cancer: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

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breast cancer awarenessAwareness and early prevention are so important in the treatment of breast cancer. Here is a breakdown of the various signs, symptoms and treatments for breast cancer in older women from the National Cancer Institute.

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the breast. The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts. Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels.

The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels lead to organs called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body. They filter substances in a fluid called lymph and help fight infection and disease. Clusters of lymph nodes are found near the breast in the axilla (under the arm), above the collarbone, and in the chest.

The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.

Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:

  • Older age
  • Older age at first birth or never having given birth
  • A personal history of breast cancer or benign (noncancer) breast disease
  • A mother or sister with breast cancer
  • Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest
  • Breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram
  • Taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Being caucasian

Breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes). The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person’s parents. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer. Some altered genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups.

Learn more here about these topics:

  • Detecting breast cancer in older people
  • Chance of recovering from breast cancer
  • Treating breast cancer in elderly people
  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone Therapy