Monday, 12 December 2016

Cancer Types - Breast

Hello everyone,

I wanted to do this post because it is such a common cancer that affects so many people. I recently met a very brave lady who is currently suffering from breast cancer and several of my fellow Cancer Research UK Ambassadors have also had to deal with this horrific cancer type. This post is dedicated to all the women and men that have had to face breast cancer at some point in their lives.

The Breast:
Breasts are made up of fat, gland tissue and connective tissue which is divided into lobes. A network of ducts spread from these lobes towards the nipple. Breasts are not usually the exact same size as each other and they can also vary in size and shape throughout your monthly cycle. They also change with age – younger women have a lot more glandular tissue so their breasts are usually more dense. After the menopause this tissue is gradually replaced by fat, which is less dense.

Breast Cancer Symptoms:
As with all cancers; the earlier breast cancer is found, the easier it is to treat. This means ladies need to be aware of what is normal for their breasts. You need to regularly have a good old feel of your breasts so you become used to how they look and feel. That way it will be easy for you to spot any changes that may actually be cancer symptoms. Do not panic as about 90% of breast lumps are not cancerous but if you do think something is not right, it is vital that you visit your GP ASAP.

The most common symptoms of breast cancer is a lump or some thickened tissue in their breast. There are also other symptoms to watch out for:
A change to the size or shape of one or both breasts
Nipple discharge
A lump in your armpit
Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
A rash on or around your nipples
A change in how your nipple looks (for example it can become sunken or invert into your breast)
A pain in your breast or armpit that is not period related

It is hugely important to know what is normal for your breasts so I fully encourage all ladies to regularly feel their breasts. Just after a shower is probably the best time. Maybe you can get your partner to feel to so you can have a second opinion if you feel something has changed.


Types of Breast Cancer:
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)
This is not cancer. LCIS means cells changes have occurred inside your breast lobes and you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future as a result. However most women with LCIS do not get breast cancer. LCIS is also found in men but this is very rare.
If you are diagnosed with LCIS then you will need to be monitored closely. Your doctor may suggest  breast examinations every six months and mammograms every year. You may also be offered hormone therapy to lower your risk of breast cancer. This monitoring is vital as cancer is easier to treat, the earlier it is diagnosed.

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)
DCIS is cancer that has developed inside some of your ducts but has not started to spread into the surrounding breast tissue. There is very little chance that this type of cancer will have spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body
In most cases, the main treatment for DCIS is surgery. Usually the area of DCIS and some healthy surrounding tissue will be removed. This is known as local excision. Radiotherapy may also be required after surgery to ensure any stray cells are caught and destroyed.
Tamoxifen may be prescribed for you after treatment. This is a type of hormone therapy which will help protect you from developing breast cancer again in the future.

Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer
This is the most common type of breast cancer. Around 70-80 out of every 100 breast cancer cases are invasive ductal breast cancer (80%)
This cancer will have started in the cells lining the breast ducts and it will have spread into the surrounding breast tissue.
Treatment varies depending on the staging and grading of the cancer. You may be offered surgery to remove the cancer and some surrounding healthy tissue. This will be followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy to destroy any remaining stray cells. Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the cancer before surgery. You may also be offered hormone therapy. Your specialist will discuss the options with you as they vary for every patient.

Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer
About 10% of breast cancer cases are invasive lobular carcinoma. It is mostly found in women aged between 45 and 55. This type of cancer will have started in the cells that line the lobules of your breast. This type of cancer is also found in men but it is very rare. This type of cancer can be hard to diagnose as it does not always create a firm lump in your breast nor does it show up on mammograms.
Treatment for this type of breast cancer will usually involve surgery to remove the cancer and some surrounding healthy tissue.  This will normally be followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy to destroy any stray cells left behind. Hormone therapy may also be recommended.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer
This is a very rare type of breast cancer, only about 4% of breast cancer cases are inflammatory breast cancer.  The breast tissue will have become inflamed and the cancer cells will be blocking the smallest lymph node channels in your breast. This will cause your breast to become swollen, hard, read and hot to touch. It can also be painful. It may also cause nipple discharge and your nipple may become inverted.
Chemotherapy is usually the first form of treatment and that is normally followed by surgery. Radiotherapy may also be an option.

If you are worried about breast cancer then please do visit or make an appointment to speak with your GP ASAP.

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