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Cancer is the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in a particular body part. With continued growth, pieces of this tissue travel through the blood to different body parts and continue to grow in the new area. This is known as metastases. Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and affects about 1 in 8 women in the USA. Read on to know more details of breast cancer – breast anatomy, causes, symptoms, risk factors, detection, prevention, and of course treatment.
Anatomy: The main function of the breast is lactation through its milk-producing tissue that are connected to the nipple by narrow ducts. In addition, there is surrounding connective tissue, fibrous material, fat, nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic channels which complete the structure. This is essential to know as most breast cancers develop as small calcifications (hardened particles) in the ducts or as small lumps in the breast tissue which then continues to grow into cancer. The spread can happen through lymphatic or blood flow to other organs.
Warning signs/symptoms: The following are some symptoms that need to be watched out for if you have a predisposition to breast cancer.
- A lump in either of the breasts or armpits
- Change in size, shape, or contour of either breast
- Redness of your breast or nipple
- Discharge of clear or bloody fluid
- Thickening of breast tissue or skin that lasts through a period
- Altered look or feel of the skin on the breast or the nipple (dimpled, inflamed, scaly, or puckered)
- One area on the breast that looks very different from the other areas
- Hardened area under the breast skin
Either one or a combination of these should be an indication to get a detailed checkup done. Early diagnosis results in controlling the disease with minimal treatment and reduced complications.
Causes and risk factors: The exact cause for breast cancer is yet to be pinned down. However, risk factors are clearly identified, and women with risk factors need to watch out for warning signs.
- Family history: Of all the risk factors, the family history is the most important. Breast cancer runs in families, and if there is a first-degree relative with the breast cancer, the chances of developing it are almost double. Two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the carriers of the disease, and this testing can be done in women to identify if they are at risk.
- Family history of other cancers: Even if there is no breast cancer, if there are other cancers that run in the family, watch out.
- Age: Women over 50 are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Race: Caucasian and Jewish women are at higher risk of breast cancer than African-American women.
- Hormones: Greater exposure to the female hormone estrogen increases the chances of developing breast cancer. Women who use birth control pills for contraception and hormone replacement after menopause are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Gynecologic milestones: Women who have abnormal menstrual milestones need to watch out. These include those who attain menarche before 12 years of age, get pregnant after 30, attain menopause after 55, and have menstrual cycles shorter than 26 days or longer than 29 days.
- Obesity and alcohol abuse are also likely to increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.
Stages: Starting from stage 0, higher stages indicate advanced disease.
- Stage 0: The growth which has begun in the milk-producing tissue or the ducts has remained there (in situ) and not spread to any other area, including the rest of the breast.
- Stage I: The tissue slowly becomes invasive and has begun to affect the surrounding healthy tissue. It could have spread to the fatty breast tissue and some breast tissue may be found in the nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage II: The cancer at this stage grows considerably or spreads to other parts. There are chances that cancer may grow and also spread.
- Stage III: It may have spread to the bones or other organs but small amounts are present in up to 9 to 10 of the lymph nodes in the armpits and collar bones which makes it is difficult to fight.
- Stage IV: The cancer is widespread to far-flung areas like the liver, lungs, bones, and even the brain.
Screening: This is one of the most effective ways to identify the disease in its early stages. This will help in controlling cancer from spreading with minimal treatment.
- Self-examination: A thorough self-examination to look for changes in terms of shape, size, colour, contour, and firmness should be learned by all women. Watch for any discharge, sores, rashes, or swelling in the breasts, surrounding skin, and nipple. Examine them while standing and when lying down.
- In most women, annual screening mammograms are advised after the age of 40. However, in women who have a strong family history or genetic makeup, it is advisable to have screening mammograms starting at age 20 every 3 years and then annually from the age of 40.
- Women in high-risk categories should have screening mammograms every year and typically start at an earlier age.
- Ultrasound screening can also be given in addition to mammograms.
- Breast MRI is another way to screen for breast cancer if the risk is greater.
Breast Cancer Prevention: Now that there is so much awareness about causes and risk factors, there are definitely ways to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
- Exercise and a healthy diet with reduced amount of alcohol are definitely effective in minimising the chances of developing cancer.
- Tamoxifen is used in women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
- Evista (raloxifene) which is used to treat osteoporosis after menopause. It is also widely used in preventing breast cancer.
- In high-risk women, breasts are surgically removed to prevent the development of cancer (preventive mastectomy).
Treatment: As with all cancers, treatment would depend on the stage at which it is identified and include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. As noted earlier, if you are at risk, look out for warning signs as early diagnosis is the key to maximum recovery.
I am getting a boil near my butt crack frequently. That too the same one pops out and gets big, burst out and later disappears. After a couple of months it repeats. What it could be? This has happened for 5 to 6 times now in this year.
Hi, I'm a male does drinking cold coffee or other desserts like we get in coffee shop drinking all that drinks keeps or makes our skin healthy and glowing does it makes our fairer or fair please tel me I have seen rich people or fair people drinking cold coffee or being or going in coffee shop or Cafe everyday and they look fairer they drink coffee and other types of coffee or drinks in the coffee shop or cafe is it good for our health in drinking it drinking in cafe or coffee shop does it keeps our healthy and glowing skin or makes our fairer I have seen lot of fair person or rich people drinking coffee or going in coffee shop or cafe in their hands is it good for our health or skin please tel me please.
Hello Doctors, I have got married a year back. I am 25 years old. I find that I am accumulating lot of fat on my cheeks. What might be the reason for this? How do I reduce? I feel shy to pose for a picture because of this? What do I do to reduce it? Also I have a lot of black marks on my face after every menstrual cycle. They have a mark on my face. These are after effects of pimples. Could you please guide me as to how to remove black marks? Thanks a lot in advance! in continuation, Dr. Lakahman Rao Jujarey has asked about my periods. Doctor, my periods are very normal & regular. No irregularity at all. I had white discharge problem. I am using a foam to reduce that. Now it is far better. Thanks in advance!
Hi doctor , 25 year old male. I have bleeding stool pass every day. I have no constipation. No pain while passing stool. Now I'm starting to feel weak and lethargy. I have visited a doctor once and he mentioned about hemmaroid and prescribed me an iron tablet and another tablet. It help stopped bleeding but started again after one month. Please tell me what should I do now.
Hello Dr. My ultrasound report says- Liver- is mildly enlarged however of normal echoes GB, SPLEEN,PANCREAS, BOTH KIDNEY, urinary BLADDER AND PROSTATE are NORMAL. IMPRESSION- 1-mild nonspecific hepatomegaly. 2-Mild gaseous distended small bowel loops seen in mid to lower ABDOMEN. 3-Wall thickness and peristalsis of small and large bowel loops are normal. 4-Grossly normal scan of kub region and rest of abdominal organs. Plzz sugg. Me.
Hi skin is very sensitive and easily broke whenever I apply any facescrub or cleanser. I have dark spots and pimples on my face nd forehead please suggest what to do?
A beautiful skin is something that everyone desires. But, a skin can look beautiful only if it is healthy. Having a healthy skin is very essential. You cannot have a healthy skin by only using artificial products and pampering yourself with parlor services. You must also eat right.
The following are nine foods that can help improve your skin health:
- Green Tea: Green tea is known to be very rich in antioxidants. It can help you to tackle the problem of inflammation and also protect your skin from skin cancer. Green tea can improve blood flow, make your skin smooth and can also protect your skin from U V rays.
- Eggs: Egg Yolk protects the skin from being damaged by UV rays since it contains carotenoid lutein. Eggs also contain sulfur, which help to make your skin glow and keep your skin healthy. Eggs are also high in protein and hence help to maintain the elasticity of your skin.
- Walnuts: Walnuts also help to improve your skin health. It helps the body to retain moisture. They contain Omega-3 fatty acids and also prevent the skin from being damaged by pollution.
- Olive oil: Using olive oil or extra virgin olive oil to cook your food can give you a healthy skin. Olive oils are rich in vitamin E and thus help you to gain a healthy looking skin from inside as well as outside.
- Orange: Oranges and even other fruits that are orange in color like papaya can help you to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. They are also rich in vitamin C and can help you to obtain wrinkle- free, soft and smooth skin.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolates are rich in cocoa. It helps to protect the skin from UV rays, hydrates your skin and makes it glow.
- Tomato: Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and lycopene. It prevents the skin from sun damage and also acts as a good anti-aging agent.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is also very good for your skin. It contains protein and helps reducing wrinkles.
- Berries: Berries like strawberries, raspberries contain vitamin C, which prevents skin aging and reduces wrinkles. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Along with the above mentioned foods, you must also increase your water intake as it will keep your skin hydrated and make your skin healthy from both inside and outside.
If I apply mixture of aloe vera and onion juice on my scars will it permanently disappear and do it have Any side effects?
I have a dark circle on my eyes. Even I get enough sleep I am not able to get rid of it. I am now using Himalaya under eye cream. Please refer some cream to get rid of my dark circles.
How can I remove dark spot on my face skin? I am so worried about it. Please give me some favorable answer.
I am suffering from the pimples on my face. How can I reduce the production of the fluid that comes out when it burst in our body. I am sure it is not due to hormonal changes. This problem leaves a mark on my face that takes a week to fade away. On pressing my face skin some white material comes out of the pores. How xan I get rid of it?
I have to go for urinating at odd hrs like mid night. In one of the clinic it was told that it is prostate. But other doctor said it is not. Tell me what to do?
I having an problem on my skin since from 15 days I think its a fungal infection and it is spreading too rapidly from since 3 days. In this problem skin becomes very dry and there lot of itching and sometimes it becomes very moist and there are some pimples which in turn becomes dry skin with white patches.
One of the effects of ageing is the double chin that is caused due to extra fluid or fat under the chin. It could also be due to increased weight, sagging skin, or merely genetic. Given that it produces an aged appearance, people with double chin are constantly trying to find ways to hide it. There are two main muscles in the neck area, and toning them helps to remove the double chin appearance. There are grooming tips like specific kinds of clothes, hairstyle, and makeup to conceal it. There are also some exercises which are believed to reduce the prominence of the double chin. However, these are temporary measures, and for a permanent solution, surgical correction is the only method of choice.
Some of the new methods to get rid of the double chin are listed below with some important additional details. Talk to your surgeon and understand what to expect before going ahead with the surgical correction.
- Kybella: Approved by FDA, this is the new wonder drug to correct double chin. With no surgery involved, all it takes is about half an hour. The area is injected with a local anaesthetic and then Kybella. This contains deoxycholic acid, which is an enzyme that the body also produces naturally. This helps break down fat cells and so after a couple of weeks, the double chin gradually begins to literally melt away. Depending on the desired results, repeat injections might be required at monthly intervals. There could be mild swelling in the initial couple of days, which will subside shortly. The result would be a more defined chin line, producing a slimmer appearance.
- CoolMini: This involves freezing the fat and massaging it to remove the double chin. This is a form of chin sculpting and is preferred in people with good skin tightness. Results will be evident in about 1 to 3 months.
- Skin tightening using infrared light: A beam of infrared light is aimed at the double chin which causes tightening of the skin by stimulating the underlying collagen and elastin layers.
- Chin liposuction: In people with excess fat deposition, chin liposuction where the excess fat is suctioned off is a good treatment option. This is a time-tested method and produces results more immediately than the above-mentioned procedures.
Subsequent to any of the above procedures, it is better to make some lifestyle changes so that the double chin does not return. Weight management and regular exercise can go a long way in preventing recurrence of the double chin. Speak to a doctor to draw up a weight management plan and an exercise regimen that can help in the same.