Questions and Answers About Breast Cancer


How are the breasts:

The breasts (or breasts) are glands and its main function is to produce milk. They are composed of lobes that divide into smaller portions, lobules and ducts that carry milk produced outside the nipple. Like all other organs of the human body, are also found in breast blood vessels that supply blood to the breast, and lymphatic vessels through which lymph flows. Lymph is a clear liquid that has a function similar to the blood to carry nutrients to various parts of the body and collect undesirable substances. The lymphatic vessels are grouped in what is called lymph nodes, or swollen lymph nodes. The lymphatic vessels drain into the breast glands in the armpits (lower arms) in the neck and chest.

The types of breast cancer:

Breast cancer occurs when cells of the body begin to divide and reproduce very quickly and haphazardly. Most breast cancer affects the cells of the ducts of the breasts. Therefore, the most common breast cancer called ductal carcinoma. It can be in situ, when nothing of the first cell layers of duct or attacker, when invading the surrounding tissue. Cancers that begin in the breast lobules are called lobular carcinoma and is less common than the first. This type of cancer most often affects both breasts. Carcinoma Inflammatory breast cancer is more rare and usually presents itself aggressively, committing the entire breast, leaving her red, swollen and hot.

Risk factors for breast cancer:

Breast cancer, like many cancers, has known risk factors. Some of these factors are modifiable, meaning you can change the exposure that a person has given to this factor, decreasing your chance of developing this cancer.

There are also protective factors. These are factors that, if the person is exposed, your chance of developing this cancer is lower.

The known risk factors and protection of breast cancer are:


Breast cancer is more common in women over 50 years. The older the better the chance of having this cancer. Women under 20 years rarely have this type of cancer.

Excessive exposure to hormones:

Hormone replacement therapy (hormones used to combat the symptoms of menopause) containing the female hormones estrogen and progesterone increase the risk of breast cancer. Do not take or stop taking these hormones is a decision that the woman should take to your doctor, weighing the risks and benefits of this medication.
Oral contraceptives (the pill) taken for many years may also increase this risk.
Surgically removing the ovaries reduces the risk of developing breast cancer because it decreases the production of estrogen (surgical menopause).
Some medications “block” the action of estrogen and are used in some women who have a very increased risk of developing this cancer. Using these medications (such as Tamoxifen) is a decision with the physician evaluating the risks and benefits of these medications.


Part of the treatment of some diseases of the chest radiating region. Previously many benign diseases are treated with irradiation. Today, this procedure is practically restricted to the treatment of tumors. People who needed to radiate the region of the chest or breast have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.


Drinking alcohol in excess is associated with a slight increase in breast cancer. The association with drinking alcohol is proportional to what you eat, that is, the more you drink the greater the risk of this cancer. Taking less than one alcoholic drink a day helps to prevent this type of cancer (one glass of wine, a small bottle of beer or a shot of whiskey are examples of an alcoholic drink). If I drink, therefore, take less than one dose per day.
Obese women are more likely to develop breast cancer, especially when this weight gain occurs after menopause or after age 60. Stay within the ideal weight (see BMI calculation on this site), especially after menopause reduces the risk of this cancer.
Follow a healthy diet rich in plant foods with fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat may decrease the risk of having this type of cancer. Although studies were not completely conclusive on this protection factor, to adhere to a healthy lifestyle that includes such a diet reduces the risk of many cancers, including breast cancer (see the Mediterranean Diet on this site).


Exercise usually reduces the amount of circulating female hormone. As this type of tumor is associated with this hormone, exercising regularly reduces the risk of having breast cancer, especially in women who are or have regular exercise when young.

Gynecological history:

Do not have children or get pregnant the first time late (after age 35) is a risk factor for breast cancer.
Menstruating early (at age 11 or before) or stop menstruating too late exposes women more time to female hormones and therefore increases the risk of this cancer.
Breastfeeding, especially for a long time, one year or more added all periods of breastfeeding may decrease the risk of breast cancer

Family history:

Women who have first-degree relatives, mothers, sisters or daughters with breast cancer, especially if they have this cancer before menopause are a risk group for developing this cancer.

Although rare, men can get breast cancer and have a first degree relative, like his father, with this diagnosis also increases the risk for familial breast cancer.
People of this risk group should consult with your doctor to define the need for tests to identify genes that may be present in these families. If detected a higher genetic risk, your doctor may suggest some measures to reduce these risks. Some fairly radical measures may be or have significant side effects. Remove the breasts and take Tamoxifen are examples of these measures. The indication of these procedures and discussion of the pros and cons is individual and should be taken with a doctor very experienced in these cases.

Changes in the breast:

Having had a previous breast cancer is a major risk factors for this cancer. Stay within the ideal weight, exercising regularly, properly follow the advice of your doctor and get screened yearly review are important measures to decrease around the tumor or have a second breast tumor.
Biopsies have done even for benign conditions is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Dense breasts on mammography is associated with an increased risk for this tumor. It is very important that mammography is performed in a qualified service and that the examination is compared with previous examinations.

Symptoms of breast cancer:

Breast cancer usually does not hurt. The woman can feel a lump (or seed), which previously it did not feel. That should make her seek your doctor. The doctor will palpate the breasts, armpits and the neck and collarbone and feel a breast lump, a mammogram will ask.

The woman may also notice a deformity in their breasts, or breasts may be uneven. Or you may notice a decrease in the skin or a bloody fluid coming out the nipple. In more advanced cases may appear a “wound” (ulceration) in the skin with very unpleasant odor.

In the case of inflammatory breast cancer can increase rapidly in volume, getting hot and red.

In most cases, the woman is responsible for the first suspicion of cancer. It is essential that she know your breasts and know when something unusual is happening. The breasts change over the menstrual cycle and throughout life. However, acute changes and symptoms as listed above should make women seek your doctor quickly. Only he can tell if these changes may or may not be cancer.

How is the diagnosis of breast cancer:

A mammogram is a breast Rx. This test is also done to detect cancer early when a woman makes the examination without having any symptoms. If the breast is very dense, the doctor will also ask for an ultrasound of the breasts.

If the mammogram shows a suspicious lesion, the physician indicates that a biopsy needle can be made thin or thick needle. Generally, this biopsy is done with the help of an ultrasound to locate the nodule and that the material will be collected if the lump is not easily palpable. After collection, the material is examined by a pathologist (a pathological examination) to determine if this injury could be a cancer or not.

Treatment for breast cancer:

There are several types of treatment for breast cancer. There are several factors that define what is most appropriate in each case. Before deciding what type of treatment is most appropriate physician analyzes the results of pathological examination of biopsy or surgery if this has already been made. In addition, the doctor asks laboratory tests and imaging to define the extent of the tumor, and he left breast and lodged in other parts of the body.

If the tumor is small, the first procedure is a surgery where the tumor is removed. Depending on the size of the breast, tumor location and possible cosmetic result of surgery, the surgeon removes only the lump, a part of the breast (usually one quarter of the breast or setorectomia) or remove the whole breast (mastectomy) and axillary lymph .

The characteristics of the tumor removed and the extent of surgery if the woman will need to define some more additional treatment or not. Generally, if the whole breast was not removed, it is forwarded to radiotherapy.

Depending on the stage, or how advanced the disease is (size, number of involved axillary nodes and involvement of other areas of the body) will also be given chemotherapy or hormone therapy. Radiation therapy is the treatment that makes applying rays to eliminate any cell that is left at the surgical site to be so small that it was not located by the surgeon or the pathologist. This treatment is done on a machine and the duration and intensity depend on the characteristics of the tumor and the patient.

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs, usually intravenously, which kill malignant cells circulating. The type of chemotherapy used depends on whether the woman is already in menopause and the extent of their disease. Hormone therapy is the use of medications that block the action of hormones that increase the risk of developing this cancer. This treatment is given to those patients in whom the tumor was shown to have these receptor-positive (estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor).

Early detection of breast cancer:

The palpation performed by a physician and mammography examinations are performed for early detection of colorectal cancer.

How does the doctor do this test?

The examination easier to perform to detect a breast change is palpation. In this test the doctor feels the entire breast, the armpit region and upper trunk in search of a lump or skin changes such as shrinkage or hardening, and a change in the nipple.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and the armpit closest portions of the breasts. In this examination, the radiologist looks for pictures suggestive of changes in breast tissue and lymph nodes of the armpit. A breast ultrasound can help radiologists to define what kind of changes are these.

These tests, when performed annually or more frequently depending on the individual patient’s history (presence of risk factors or history of tumors and previous biopsy) can reduce mortality from this type of tumor when performed between 50 and 69 years .

However, this tumor type has different characteristics for different populations. This changes how mammography is effective in reducing mortality in this type of tumor.

Perform these tests between 40 and 49 years can reduce mortality from this type of tumor, but the effect of this reduction will only occur when these women have more than 50 years.

Related Posts

Post a Comment