Breast cancer is one of the last things women – and men – want to hear. It can be devastating, regardless of what stage it is in when it is caught. Everyone needs to know about this disease and try to prevent it before it gets out of control.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the breast cells. It starts when body cells grow out of control in the cells of the breast, in either one or both. When a lump is found in the breast, most of the time it is benign. A lump that is tested and found to be malignant is cancer. Cancer is a condition where the body cells replicate abnormally and damage nearby parts of the body.
Breast cancer occurs primarily in women, but men can get breast cancer, too. Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, after skin cancer. 1 in 3 new female cancers every year is breast cancer. There are currently 3.8 million women in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with this disease.
While breast cancer in men is far less common than in women, about 2,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will likely be diagnosed this year.
Types of Breast Cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer. Those include:
- Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
- Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
- Invasive Lobular Cancer (ILC)
- Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
- Metastatic Breast Cancer
- Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
There are other, less common types of breast cancer, too.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
There is not an exact cause known for breast cancer yet. Several risk factors increase the chances of developing it:
- Age: Those 55 and older have a higher chance.
- Sex: Women are at a much greater risk.
- Family history and genetics: Anyone with a close relative who has had breast cancer has a higher risk. Genetic testing can test for the BRCA gene or any other gene mutation that could put a person more at risk.
- Smoking: Tobacco use is linked to several types of cancer.
- Alcohol use: Drinking alcohol can increase the chance of certain types of breast cancer.
- Obesity: Being overweight increases the risk for breast cancer and the recurrence of breast cancer.
- Radiation exposure: Especially to your chest, neck, or head.
- Hormone replacement therapy
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
There are several signs and symptoms associated with breast cancer. Some of those could be:
- A lump felt on the breast. It could feel thick and feel different than the rest of the breast tissue.
- Changes in the skin on the breast. For example, dimpling.
- Changes in the appearance of the breast, in the shape or the size.
- A nipple that has become newly inverted.
- Peeling, crusting, scaling, or flaking on the areola or the skin of the breast.
- Pitting of the skin or redness on the breast. It may resemble an orange.
If a person has any of these symptoms they should make an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation.
Breast Cancer Treatments
There are several ways to treat breast cancer. Some of the ways could include:
- Surgery: This would cut the cancerous tissue out.
- Chemotherapy: Using specific medications to kill or shrink the cancer cells. These can be given orally or by IV.
- Hormone therapy: This blocks cancer cells from growing.
- Biological therapy: This helps your immune system fight cancer or controls side effects from cancer treatments.
- Radiation therapy: High energy rays that kill cancerous cells.
Prevention is the best way to treat possible breast cancer. Living a healthy lifestyle and getting regular cancer screenings are advantageous for anyone. Doing self-exams regularly and getting mammograms can be the difference between early detection and late-stage cancer.
Be a previvor (someone who takes preventative steps) before a survivor!
Medicines for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy drugs are some of the most aggressive ways to combat breast cancer cells. Doctors will often use a combination when treating patients.
Adjuvant (before surgery) and neoadjuvant (after surgery) chemo drugs):
- 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)
- Capecitabine (Xeloda)
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
- Carboplatin (Paraplatin)
Metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread) drugs include:
- Paclitaxel (Taxol)
- Docetaxel (Taxotere)
- Albumin-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane)
- Ixabepilone (Ixempra)
- Eribulin (Halaven)
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- Liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil)
- epirubicin (Ellence)
- Platinum agents (Cisplatin, Carboplatin)
- Vinorelbine (Navelbine)
- Capecitabine (Xeloda)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
Get Help With Breast Cancer Medications
The Rx Advocates want to help anyone better afford their medications. If you have any medications that are too expensive, we want to show you how our program works.
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