Breast cancer is cancer that develops in breast cells. Typically, the cancer forms in either the lobules or the ducts of the breast. Lobules are the glands that produce milk, and ducts are the pathways that bring the milk from the glands to the nipple. Cancer can also occur in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue within your breast.

Symptoms of breast cancer

Regular screenings are important to reduce the risks of breast cancer.

The first symptoms of breast cancer usually appear as an area of thickened tissue in the breast or a lump in the breast or an armpit.

Other symptoms include:

  1. pain in the armpits or breast that does not change with the monthly cycle
  2. pitting or redness of the skin of the breast, similar to the surface of an orange
  3. a rash around or on one of the nipples
  4. discharge from a nipple, possibly containing blood
  5. a sunken or inverted nipple
  6. a change in the size or shape of the breast
  7. peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple

Most breast lumps are not cancerous. However, women should visit a doctor for an examination if they notice a lump on the breast.

Causes of breast cancer

After puberty, a woman’s breast consists of fat, connective tissue, and thousands of lobules. These are tiny glands that produce milk for breastfeeding. Tiny tubes, or ducts, carry the milk toward the nipple.

Cancer causes the cells to multiply uncontrollably. They do not die at the usual point in their life cycle. This excessive cell growth causes cancer because the tumour uses nutrients and energy and deprives the cells around it.

Breast cancer usually starts in the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply them with milk. From there, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Risk factors associated to breast cancer

The exact cause of breast cancer remains unclear, but some risk factors make it more likely. It is possible to prevent some of these risk factors.

  1. Age: Ageing increases the chances of breast cancer as there are more aged woman at brick of having the cancer, this may due to the services (breastfeeding and squeezing during sex) the breast had served over the decades.
  2. Genetics
  3. A history of breast cancer or breast lumps: Women who have previously had breast cancer are more likely to have it again than those who have no history of the disease.
  4. Dense breast tissue: Women with more dense breasts are more likely to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer.
  5. Estrogen exposure and breastfeeding: Breastfeeding for over 1 year appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Extended exposure to estrogen appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.
  6. Body weight: Women who become overweight or develop obesity after menopause may also have a higher chance of developing breast cancer, possibly due to increased estrogen levels. High sugar intake may also be a factor.
  7. Alcohol consumption: A higher rate of regular alcohol consumption appears to play a role in breast cancer development. Women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who do not. Those who drink moderate to heavy levels of alcohol have a higher risk than light drinkers.
  8. Radiation exposure: Undergoing radiation treatment for a different cancer may increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

Possible preventive approach against breast cancer

There is no way to prevent breast cancer. However, certain lifestyle decisions can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as other types.

These include:

  1. avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  2. following a healthful diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  3. getting enough exercise
  4. maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI)

Women should consider their options for breastfeeding and the use of HRT following menopause, as these can also increase the risk.

Preventive surgery is also an option for women at high risk of breast cancer.

Our medic tips at ALTH

Controversy surrounds the causes of breast cancer, however, like other cancer, the abnormal growth of a particular cell in a tissue beyond control, leading to deprivation of other surrounding cells of required nutrients and oxygen, hence, the cells die off cause. This leads to malignancy of cancer; breast cancer is no exception.

It is therefore germane to maintain good hygiene and desist for the rampant but crude method of keeping naira note in your breast or hiding handset in the bra. We therefore urge you to present yourself for routine screening as this has proven preventive approach. Your health is our concern