Diagnosis & Treatment

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in breast tissue. This abnormal growth forms a tumor, most commonly this occurs in the breast ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and is called ductal breast cancer. Tumors can also develop in breast lobules (glands that make milk) and this less common form is called lobular breast cancer. The breasts also contain lymph nodes, round masses of tissue that act as "filters" and are interconnected by lymph vessels. Groups of lymph nodes, related to the breast, are in the underarm, above the collarbone and in the chest behind the breastbone. Breast cancers are either in-situ, also known as non-invasive (involving only the duct or the lobule and not extending into the surrounding area) OR invasive (penetrates through the duct or lobule into the surrounding areas). These are more serious than noninvasive cancers, as these cancer cells can break away from the main tumor and metastasize (travel to other parts of the body), through blood or lymph vessels. These break-away cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form tumors.

What causes Breast Cancer?

Research is ongoing to investigate environmental, hereditary and lifestyle factors, but, we generally do not know what causes breast cancer. The best option we have is to detect and treat the cancer as early as possible.

What are the symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Many women have no symptoms, especially when their cancer is detected early. The most common sign of breast cancer is a non-tender lump that does not move easily (non-mobile) when your fingers push against it, and does not go away, or even gets larger over time. Eventually, there may be changes to the skin that lies over the lump. The skin may become dimpled, thickened or pebbled, like the peel of an orange. About 50% of breast cancers are found through mammograms.