Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. Signs of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, or a red scaly patch of skin. In those with distant spread of the disease, there may be bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, or yellow skin.
Risk factors for developing breast cancer include being female, obesity, lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, ionizing radiation, early age at first menstruation, having children late or not at all, older age, and family history. About 5–10% of cases are due to genes inherited from a person’s parents, including BRCA1 and BRCA2 among others. Breast cancer most commonly develops in cells from the lining of milk ducts and the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers developing from the ducts are known as ductal carcinomas, while those developing from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas.
Breast cancer rates are much higher in developed nations compared to developing ones. There are several reasons for this, with possibly life-expectancy being one of the key factors – breast cancer is more common in elderly women; women in the richest countries live much longer than those in the poorest nations. The different lifestyles and eating habits of females in rich and poor countries are also contributory factors, experts believe.
The first symptoms of breast cancer are usually an area of thickened tissue in the woman’s breast, or a lump. The majority of lumps are not cancerous; however, women should get them checked by a health care professional.
– A lump in a breast
– A pain in the armpits or breast that does not seem to be related to the woman’s menstrual period
– Pitting or redness of the skin of the breast; like the skin of an orange
– A rash around (or on) one of the nipples
– A swelling (lump) in one of the armpits
– An area of thickened tissue in a breast
– One of the nipples has a discharge; sometimes it may contain blood
– The nipple changes in appearance; it may become sunken or inverted
– The size or the shape of the breast changes
– The nipple-skin or breast-skin may have started to peel, scale or flake.
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