By Roselyn Dube
The threat of breast cancer is easily ignored, especially when considering that you do not share your bra with any woman or there has not been any family member who has suffered from it. I am one of the individuals who never took serious the issue of breast cancer until a close relative became a victim. That is when you become aware that the signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. It is important to know how your your breasts normally look and feel always.
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control, and when it starts in the breast it is called breast cancer. Breast cancer screening means checking your breasts for cancer before you have any symptoms, and the best way to find breast cancer early and when it is easier to treat before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms is through mammogram (an X-ray picture of the breast).
As a woman, you should be aware that breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is cancerous if the cells can grow into invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body.
Breast cancer can be separated into different types based on the way the cancer cells look under the microscope. Most breast cancers are carcinomas, a type of cancer that starts in the cells (epithelial cells) that line organs and tissues like the breast. Other types of cancers can occur in the breast, too, such as sarcomas, which start in the cells of muscle, fat, or connective tissue. In some cases a single breast tumor can be a combination of different types or be a mixture of invasive and in situ cancer. And in some rarer types of breast cancer, the cancer cells may not form a tumor at all. Breast cancer can also be classified based on proteins on or in the cancer cells, into groups like hormone receptor-positive or triple-negative. Therefore l advise you as a woman to regularly check, and feel your breasts always so as to be sure of your health. It is not good enough to make assumptions based on what you think!
Factors that influence your breast cancer risk among others are:
- Changes in breast cancer-related genes
- Having your first menstrual period before the age of 12
- Never giving birth or being older when your first child is born
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Getting radiation therapy to the breast or chest