Breast Cancer- Symptoms, Prevention and Control
Breast cancer is the cancerous growth of cancer cells that forms in the cells of the breast. It often begins with cells in the milk-producing duct or may also begin in the ducts that direct milk into the nipple. Breast cancer occurs mostly to the female gender and is rare among males.
This disease still remains one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer types among women and kills thousands worldwide every year. In recent times, Nigeria has recorded more than 100 thousand cases, which drastically affects the population of the womenfolk in the country.
Breast cancer occurs in various forms, depending on which cells in the breast turn into cancer cells. Two of the main forms of this disease are; invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma, occurring in the lobules and ducts of the breast.
Breast cancer, confirmed by medical personnel comes in various stages. Below are the stages in which breast cancer occurs:
- stage 0: This means the victim has no cancer yet only the growth of abnormal cells with the tendency to become cancer cells is noticed. This is termed “carcinoma in situ”.
- Stage 1: At this stage, the cancerous growth is small and only in a particular area. This stage is called the early-stage of cancer.
- Stage 2 and 3: This stage of the cancer means that the cancer cells have grown and spread to other areas like the nearby tissues and lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: The last stage, the cancerous growth has spread to all parts of the body, at this point it is termed advanced or metastatic cancer… Treatments required at this stage can either through surgery, but no guarantee it will cure it totally or through radiation and chemotherapy.
In a research conducted by Dr Ananya Mandala, where she lists symptoms of breast cancer to include:
- The abnormal growth of a lump in the breast is one of the commonly noticed symptoms of victims. Usually, it doesn’t count as a sign of cancerous tumour but in most cases it does.
- Fluid discharge from one or both nipples. This discharge may be clear, yellow, green, or even bloody.
- Another symptom of this disease is the appearance of rash or sores around the nipples; usually, this is as a result of itching around the area.
- A lump or more forming at the armpit, under the collar bone or other places, is also noticed.
- They usually experience pain in either of the breast or armpits, these signs may not be related to periods. In later stages of the spread of cancer patients experience bone pain or easy fractures, skin ulcer, weight loss, fatigue, seizures, convulsions… Etc.
- The breast of the patient also tends to change shape, an appearance which is usually noticed as a result of tumour-forming underneath the nipple, and this causes it to be flattened at both sides taking the shape of a “pit”.
- The thickening of the tissues over the skin of the breast.
Females who usually experience their menstrual cycle before the age of 12 tend to be later victims of the cancer of the breast.
- Formation of dimples over the skin of the breast especially when the arms are raised or moved: this is as a result of the attachment of the tumour to the skin below it. The dimples give the breast a pitted appearance and this skin change is called peau d’orange or orange peel appearance.
Treatment of the above symptoms depends on the cancer stage of the patient. But, if easily detected at the early stage, can be eliminated through surgery.
However, in order to avoid the increase in the mortality rate of females as a result of breast cancer, the following precautions are to be taken into consideration.
- Thorough examination of family bloodline: When traced back, a victim’s family bloodline may have been known to be carriers of breast cancer and the victims tend to inherit such traits.
- The intake of certain foods called cancer-fighting foods which contain phytochemicals that help inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Frequent eating of fruits and vegetables also prevents the growth of cancer cells.
- Regular exercise to keep the body fit can also prevent the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Disciplined and measured alcohol intake and abstaining from smoking can help control the risk of cancerous growth.
- Nursing mothers should be advised to breastfeed their children for a period of one year or more.
- Avoid the use of birth control pills, particularly after the age of 35 as this could lead to the growth of cancer cells.
- Avoid taking post-menopausal hormones. The secretion of certain hormones especially during menopause could risk individuals developing cancer especially that of the breast. If woman do feel the need to take post-menopausal hormone pills, it should be for the shortest period of time possible.
- The easiest and common way to detect a potential problem of breast cancer is by regular breast examination by oneself. All women should endeavour to practice breast cancer awareness; this involves having the knowledge of the structure, feel and appearance of the breast.
- The intake of drugs such as; tamoxifen and raloxifene are mostly used to prevent the cancerous growth in the breast.
Lastly, one of the major ways of preventing the growth of this disease is by creating public awareness, informing the public that such could happen and where it does, it can be managed if noticed early.