What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. In general, there are different kinds of breast cancer and it can begin in different parts.
A breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, & connective tissue.
- The Lobules are the glands that produce milk.
- The ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple.
- The connective tissue surrounds and holds everything together.
Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules and they can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Symptoms of breast cancer may vary for every individual and even some of them do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are:
- New lump in the breast or underarm.
- Swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation of skin at the breast.
- Redness skin in the nipple area.
- Pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Breast Cancer?
Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways—
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks.
- If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy external icon or oral contraceptive external icon (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breastfeed your children, if possible.
- If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs.