Cancer that affects the cells of the breasts is called breast cancer. In this article, you will learn its types and symptoms, facts, and statistics in the US. Before we dive deeper, let’s have a quick overview of the history of breast cancer.
History of Breast Cancer: A Disease that Attacks the Symbol of Beauty, Fertility, and Femininity
Undoubtedly, female breasts have much more to symbolize other than beauty alone. They are the source of milk which feeds the baby and are very strongly associated with a women’s self-perception of femininity.
No one exactly knows the history of breast cancer. However, there are mentions of this type of cancer in various documents that date back to 3,000–2,500 B.C. Imhotep, the Egyptian physician who lived 27th century BC, is a prominent figure in the history of breast cancer exploration. His documents provide an authentic account of the disease in females.
Ancient Greeks are known to offer donations to the God of Medicine, Asclepius, in an attempt to get relief from the disease. Some prominent figures in the history of breast cancer are
- In his writing dating back to 400 B.C., the father of medicine notes that the cancer is caused due to an imbalance of humor (blood, phlegm, and yellow and black bile). Moreover, he also describes its stages as progressive disease.
- Leonides of Alexandria. In first century AD, he gave details of the surgical procedures to remove the tumor. In fact, his approach of cutting open the affected breast and removing the tumor forms the foundation of modern surgical intervention.
- In 200 A.D., Galen concluded that breast cancer was a systemic disease and believed the accumulation of black bile in the blood as its cause.
Types and Symptoms of Breast Cancer You Should Not Miss
Broadly, breast cancer may be divided into the following types.
- Non-invasive. Non-invasive breast cancer starts in the breast ducts or glands but does not grow into breast tissues. It is also called carcinoma in situ or pre-cancer. In situ means “in the place where it originated”.
- An invasive breast cancer is the one which starts either in the breast ducts or glands and then invades the breast tissues. Up to 80% of invasive breast cancers are caused by a type known as invasive ductal carcinoma. The next type, invasive lobular carcinoma, is found in 10% of the cases of invasive breast cancers.
- As the name suggests, a recurrent breast cancer tends to return back after initial treatment. A small number of cancer cells that survive the treatment multiply to cause recurrent cancer.
- Metastatic cancer spreads to distant organs beyond its place of origin. As such, metastatic breast cancer can spread to organs like bones, lungs, liver or brain. Usually, metastasis occurs months or years after a treatment is completed.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
A lump in the breast or armpit can be the first sign that you may have breast cancer. However, it does not mean that every lump in the breast is cancer. As a matter of fact, most lumps are not cancerous. In any case, it is highly recommended that you visit your doctor.
Watch out for the other possible signs that include:
- A persistent pain in the armpits or breast that is not affected by the menstrual cycles.
- Formation of pits or red spots on the breast skin that is similar to an orange peel.
- A rash on one or both nipples.
- Abnormal discharge from one of the nipples which may also contain blood.
- A sunken or inverted nipple.
- Abnormal shape or size of the breast
- Peeling, flaking, dimpling, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple.
10 Facts and Statistics about Breast Cancer
- It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer. Also, it is the most common invasive cancer that affects women.
- The United States is home to as many as 3.1 million breast cancer survivors. At any given time, the chance of death due to breast cancer among women is 2.7 percent.
- In 2017, it is expected that about 252,710 new diagnoses will be made. Out of the total cases, 40,610 women are likely to die from the disease.
- In 2015, breast cancer accounted for 40,000 deaths in women in the US.
- One out of every eight women in the US develops this disease.
- Compared to white women, African-American women have significantly lower survival rates.
- Death rates are highest in women who are more than 80 years, and lowest in women below 40 years.
- Deaths among white women tend to be highest in the North Central, Mid-Atlantic, and Western regions of the US. Among black women, the highest death rates are found in some of the South Central and Mid-Atlantic states, as well as California.
- The exact cause of breast cancer is not fully known yet. However, it is thought to occur from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Most importantly, various studies have found that a family history of the disease, can increase your risk by almost two times.
- Birth control can increase the risk by a very slight margin while breastfeeding can be protective.
Want To Know More?
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