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    Breast Cancer: Types, Causes, Symptoms

    Breast Lump

    Breast Cancer: Types, Causes, Symptoms

    Updated on 3 November 2023

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    Cancer is formed when changes called mutation occur in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutation allows the cells to divide and multiply in a very uncontrolled manner. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in breast cells. It occurs either in the lobules or the ducts of the breast. Lobules are glands that are responsible for the production of milk and ducts are the paths through which milk passes from the glands to the nipples. Cancer can occur in the fatty tissue as well as fibrous connective tissue within the breast.

    10 early signs or symptoms of breast cancer

    The following are the early signs or symptoms of breast cancer, identifying these symptoms can enable women to seek treatment as soon as possible:

    1) Lump detection

    Check for lumps by applying pressure on the breasts and surrounding tissues with your fingers. Lumps are usually formed around the armpit, collarbones, lymph nodes or nipples.

    2) Itchiness in breasts

    Rashless itchiness in and around your breast.

    3) Swollen breasts

    Swelling in the breasts along with patchy, burning skin that feels extremely sensitive to the touch or caress.

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    4) Neck and shoulder stiffness

    If you have pain or stiffness in the neck, back, spine or shoulder contact your doctor.

    5) Change in breast size

    A breast tumour changes the size of the affected breast, so look out for any changes in the size of your breast.

    6) Breast tenderness

    A lump develops like a tiny seed-like structure along the breast tissue which may cause the breast to feel tender when you lie down.

    7) Nipple discharge

    If the breast cancer develops in the milk ducts it may lead to watery, milky or blood-tinged discharge.

    8) Nipple sensitivity

    In case abnormally sensitive nipples suddenly become void of sensitivity, the underlying cause may be breast tumours.

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    9) Nipple changes

    If you are not breastfeeding and your nipple becomes inverted, flat, indented, or asymmetrical in shape.

    10) Dimpled breast tissue

    The skin over the breasts becomes red, dimpled, or even appears pitted or wrinkly similar to skin that covers an orange.

    Breast cancer types (invasive and non-invasive)

    There are four types of breast cancer, which include both invasive and non-invasive:

    1) Ductal carcinoma in Situ (non-invasive)

    In this, the cancer cells are confined to the ducts of your breast and haven't invaded the surrounding breast tissue.

    2) Lobular carcinoma in Situ

    It occurs in the milk-producing glands of your breasts. Cancer cells do not affect the surrounding tissue.

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    3) Invasive ductal carcinoma

    It begins in the breast's milk ducts and then spreads to nearby tissues in your breast. Later, it can begin to spread to other nearby tissue and organs.

    4) Invasive lobular carcinoma

    This first develops in the breast's lobules and then spreads to nearby tissue or tissues.

    Some other types of breast cancer

    Other less common types of breast cancer include:

    1) Paget disease of the nipple

    2) Phyllodes tumour

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    3) Angiosarcoma

    4) Inflammatory breast cancer

    5) Triple-negative breast cancer

    Causes of Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer happens when abnormal cells in your breast divide and multiply. Research says that there are some risk factors which increase the chances of getting breast cancer. These risk factors are:

    1) Age

    Being more than 55 increases your chances of getting breast cancer.

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    2) Sex

    Most likely in women.

    3) Family History and genetics

    If your parents, siblings, children other close relatives have such a disease, then there are more chances of getting breast cancer.

    4) Smoking

    Tobacco is the leading cause of many types of cancer, including breast cancer.

    5) Alcohol use

    Consumption of alcohol can also increase the risk of getting breast cancer.

    6) Obesity

    Obesity can increase the risk of breast cancer as well as breast cancer recurrence.

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    7) Radiation exposure

    If you've had prior radiation therapy, especially in the head, neck or chest, you are more likely to get breast cancer.

    8) Hormone replacement therapy

    People who use hormone replacement therapy are having more chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Treatment of breast cancer

    Your doctor advises you a breast cancer treatment options based on cancer stage & grade, size, and type of breast cancer and also it is based on overall health & your preferences.

    Treatment of breast cancer includes

    i) Breast cancer surgery

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    ii) Radiation therapy

    iii) Chemotherapy

    iv) Hormone therapy

    v) Targeted therapy drugs

    vi) Immunotherapy

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    vii) Supportive (palliative) care


    Be aware of all the facts related to breast cancer. Whenever you find any symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately. Timely check-ups, breast self-evaluation, or if you find out any lumps, immediately go for diagnosis. Women should start getting a yearly mammogram done from the age of 40 because early diagnosis and treatment can help in dealing with breast cancer.

    You may also like


    1. Keyser EA, Staat BC, Fausett MB, Shields AD. Pregnancy-associated breast cancer.
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    Written by

    Kavita Uprety

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