Breast Cancer – Symptoms, causes, treatments and medical support

One of the most common forms of cancer in the UK, it is estimated that 46,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year

What is breast cancer?
There are several different types of breast cancer that can develop in different areas of the breast. The most common types are non-invasive breast cancer and invasive breast cancer. Non-invasive breast cancer is when the cancer hasn’t developed the ability to spread outside of the breast and is found in the ducts of the breast (the area in the breast where milk is delivered when you are breastfeeding). This type of cancer is usually detected on a mammogram. Invasive cancer means the disease has the ability to spread outside of the breast, although it doesn’t necessarily mean it has. The most common form of invasive cancer is ductal breast cancer; an estimated 80 per cent of women who have breast cancer are diagnosed with this type. Other forms of breast cancer include invasive lobular cancer, which occurs in the cells that line the milk-producing lobules, inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease, which occurs on the nipple

See Also: How Research is Beating Breast Cancer 

What are the symptoms?
The majority of women with breast cancer first noticed that they had the disease when they found a lump in their breast. Although 90 per cent of lumps are not cancerous, it is always advisable to visit your doctor if you find anything unusual. Other symptoms of breast cancer include:
• Change in size or shape of the breast.
• Discharge from the nipple, which may contain blood.
• Swelling under the armpit.
• A rash around the nipple.

What are the causes?
Like many cancers, experts do not fully understand the exact cause of breast cancer. However, there are some factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease. Doctors currently believe that the risk of breast cancer increases with age, so women aged between 50-70 are invited for a breast cancer screening every three years. Women who have a family history of breast cancer are also advised to regularly visit their doctor for screenings

What treatment is available?
This depends on how big the cancer is and how much it has spread; a person who has breast cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Biological or hormone treatments may also be suggested

What is secondary breast cancer?
Also known as stage 4 cancer and advanced breast cancer, this type of breast cancer occurs when the cancer cells spread from the breast to another organ in your body, such as your liver or lungs. Doctors are unable to cure secondary breast cancer but they can treat it so as to ensure that the cancer doesn’t spread or cause any pain to the sufferer.

Apart from medical care, what support is available to someone with breast cancer?
In the first instance, speak to you doctor who should be able to refer you to a breast care nurse, key worker or social worker that will be able to assess exactly the kind of help you require. You may be given a care attendant who can help you with meals, housework, dressing and washing. For more advanced care, you may be given an occupational therapist, who will be able to assess the suitability of your home. Other support can also be found through charities and voluntary organisations.

The information provided within this article has been sourced via

See also: Why Cervical Screening is Important 
See also: Dr Hilary Jones urges women not to worry about new HRT breast cancer risk 
By Lauren King

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