There are several different types of breast cancer. The most common is ductal carcinoma, in which a tumor develops in the cells that form the lining of a breast duct. Lobular carcinoma is the second most common, and this form of cancer begins in the breast lobules.
Of all the types of cancer, breast cancer may be one of the most well-known. And there’s good reason for this: No form of cancer is more common among women.
Often, breast cancer can be present with no symptoms appearing. That's why getting an annual mammogram or a physical examination by a doctor is so important. This should take place if you are older than 40 or at a high risk for breast cancer because of such other factors as family history.
Other times, breast cancer gives subtle warning signs that a tumor is present in the breast. Signs include skin changes on or around the breast, breast swelling and a lump in or around the breast. Regular physical exams and self exams are the best way to detect these issues.
Treatment of Breast CancerIn most cases, surgery is the first line of defense when it comes to the treatment of breast cancer. In some instances, surgeons can remove just the cancerous tissue without removing the whole breast. Other times, however, the entire breast must be removed to fully remove the cancer and allow for the best possible outcome. Breast reconstruction is often an option for women who have one or both breasts removed.
In addition to surgery, other therapies used to treat breast cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy are treatments designed to kill cancer cells that may remain in the breast after surgery. Some hormones actually contribute to breast cancer and breast cancer risk, so a variety of different treatments called hormone therapies help to block the production of these hormones. Targeted therapy refers to a medication that blocks the action of the HER2 protein, which contributes to breast cancer in some women.
SOURCES: U.S. National Cancer Institute; BreastCancer.org.
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