Breast Cancer: Symptoms, stages, Prevention

Breast Cancer: Symptoms, stages, Prevention

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer (breast tumor) means a malignant tumor of the mammary gland, the term "tumor" means "mass" in a tissue. These tumors may be benign or malignant, a benign tumor is not dangerous to health however, a malignant tumor can become a life-threatening condition for the patient, anatomically milk to the nipple) which are surrounded by fatty tissue and tissue connective, breast cancer begins when abnormal cells develop in the other of these tissues.

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The stages of breast cancer

It is important and important to evaluate the spread of cancer in and out of the breast. This stage is called the stage of disease determination. A standard classification system is then used. The stage helps to determine what are the risks of recurrence of cancer. The stage influences the choice of treatment.

The stage of breast cancer can be defined by a number from 0 to 4.

The lower the stage, the smaller are the risks of recidivism. Conversely, the higher the stage, the greater the risk of re-offending.

The stage of breast cancer can also be defined according to the TNM classification which is a combination of letters and numbers. The letters T, N and M correspond to the English terms: Tumor (tumor), Node (lymphatic ganglion) and Metastases (metastasis).

This system classifies tumors according to their size (T), according to the degree of invasion of the lymph nodes (N) and according to the presence or absence of metastases (M).

The number following the letter T indicates the size of the tumor, the number following the letter N indicates the degree of propagation of the cancer in the lymph nodes, and the number following the letter M indicates the presence or absence of distant metastases.

Symptoms of breast cancer

the presence of a mass in a breast: The presence of a mass in a breast is one of the most common symptoms of breast cancer, this mass can be sensitive but generally not painful and it a different form of Remaining breast tissue, it seems impossible to move it.

Change in breast size or shape: A change in breast size or shape may also be a symptom of breast cancer.

Changes in the texture of the skin of the breasts: A padding (orange peel), thickening or crease of the skin of the breasts may be a symptom of breast cancer.

Upper back pain: Some women may experience back pain (upper back) before breast cancer is detected.

Moles: are generally considered to be an early sign of breast cancer indeed a study conducted at Harvard University on more than 120,000 infants aged 39 to 65 years showed that those with at least 15 grains average diameter of 3 mm on the arms had a 35% higher risk of having breast cancer

Who is affected?

Nearly one in seven women will be affected in her lifetime, with the risk increasing with age.

Less than 10% of breast cancers occur before age 40. The incidence then steadily increases until age 65. This, coupled with the fact that the density of the mammary gland is less important at this age, justifies the choice of the age group of 50 to 74 years for organized screening.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation

It is estimated that about 2 in 1000 women have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

These two genes help repair the lesions that DNA undergoes regularly. The presence of mutations in one of these two genes disrupts this function and greatly increases the risk of cancer (breast cancer at an early age, usually before menopause, cancer in both breasts is bilateral, ovarian cancer, mainly from the age of 40). This risk varies according to gene and family history.

breast cancer

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Biological markers

Genes are involved in the growth, division and multiplication of cells. One of these genes is called HER-2. A normal cell should contain two copies of this gene. When a cell contains more than two copies of HER2, it is said to overexpress this gene. If there is overexpression of the HER2 gene, the cell grows faster than normal. This can lead to a more aggressive form of breast cancer.

HER2 gene overexpression is measured exclusively in women with breast cancer. This measurement is performed in the laboratory on a sample of the tumor that was collected during surgery or on a sample taken during the biopsy. About 15-18% of women have overexpression of the HER2 gene. It is important to know the degree of expression of this gene since there is a drug that specifically blocks the action of the HER2 gene present on cancer cells. Thus, it prevents the growth of cancer cells and leads to their death.

The HER2 gene is not a reflection of familial or genetic cancer, so it differs from true genetic cancer such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 (see the section on Genetic predispositions)

Hormonal receptors

In women, there are two hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that are responsible for growth and normal breast development. These hormones can also influence the growth of certain breast cancers. Tests will be performed on a tissue fragment of your tumor to assess whether there are receptors for these hormones (hormone receptors). If there are no receptors on the tumor, it is said to have negative receptors. On the other hand, if the tumor expresses these receptors, it is said that it has positive receptors or that it is hormone-dependent. Knowledge of these receptors is important, because if the tumor has hormone receptors positive, some drugs can be used to slow down or stop the growth of cancer. This treatment is called hormone therapy.

Prevention from Cancer

Early detection of breast cancer remains the best way to prevent the spread of cancer and increases the chances of complete cure. All women should learn these steps to reduce the risk of breast cancer:

Have a healthy diet low in fat and high in fruit and vegetables;

Stop smoking;

Exercise regularly;

Stop alcohol consumption (the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed, even taking 1 or 2 drinks a day may slightly increase the risk);

Consider the risk associated with hormone therapy (especially if it lasts more than 5 years).

Genetic predispositions of Cancer

When several people from the same family have the same cancer, it can be a hereditary cancer due to an abnormality in a gene (genetic anomaly) that is passed from one generation to another.

Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers are hereditary, that is, attributable to a genetic mutation.

The research has identified a number of genetic mutations favoring the occurrence of breast cancer. Most often, these relate to genes called BRCA1 (for Breast Cancer 1: breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (for Breast Cancer 2: breast cancer gene 2). Being a carrier of a mutation on one of these genes does not systematically result in the appearance of a cancer, but increases the risk of developing one. This is called a genetic predisposition.

When a mutation is suspected or discovered, a consultation with a specialist in genetic oncology is then proposed to the patient.

During this consultation, the doctor evaluates the genetic risk and possibly proposes a search for mutation. In the case of the identification of a genetic mutation or when the family history evokes a syndrome of predisposition, even without identification of mutation, a specific management (surveillance, imaging examination, …) is proposed to these women.

breast cancer

Please if you have any questions about Breast Cancer, you can ask us by commenting below this text, we'll answer you as soon as possible.

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