Breast cancer today has become a fairly common term. In fact, it is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women and the second most common cause of death among women in the world. In spite of being so commonly found today, there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge about breast cancer, its symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, types of cancers, and treatment.
Most women discover breast cancer through a routine screening, while in many cases women notice symptoms that could possibly indicate breast cancer such as:
- Pain in armpits not connected to the monthly periods
- Pain in breasts not connected to the monthly periods
- Rash on or around the nipples
- Lump in the breast or armpit
- Discharge through nipples
- Sunken or inverted nipples
- Change in shape of breasts
- Scaling or peeling of the breast skin
All lumps are not cancerous, and one must visit a doctor to get the complete analysis. That said, it is also important to understand what factors to watch out for that put you at a greater risk for breast cancer.
- Increasing age
- Family history of breast cancer
- Dense breast tissue
- Estrogen exposure
- Excess body weight
- Radiation exposure
Symptoms and risk factors can provide an indication for breast cancer which should be confirmed at the earliest by a doctor. Broadly, breast cancer evaluation involves clinical evaluation, imaging, and tissue biopsy. Diagnosis of breast cancer is critical for survival, sooner the detection of cancer, faster and more effective the treatment for the problem will be. With the increasing rate of women being affected by breast cancer, a lot of efforts are being put into finding the root causes and aiming to diagnose better, while reducing the number of deaths caused by breast cancer.
While this field is continuously updating and innovating, one such significant research shows that the diagnosis of ductal carcinoma can reduce the risk of breast cancer death. Ductal carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that begins in cells that line the milk ducts. It is of two types:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC)
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DICS)
Conditions, symptoms, and course of treatment all vary for these two forms of ductal carcinoma. Out of these, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the form of breast cancer which is non-invasive. As per the reports, women who have abnormal cells in the lining of the breast duct, have a lower risk of death from breast cancer since this is a non-invasive condition. Ductal carcinoma in situ is also known as intraductal carcinoma and is a very common form of breast cancer. In this type, the growth of cells in the breast ducts is uncontrollable but it has not spread to the breast tissue outside the ducts, keeping the cancer cells in their original place and enabling effective cure. In other words, this form of cancer is also zero stage cancer, which can easily be cured. Women, who have been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, should get immediate treatment to ensure all chances of invasive cancer are ruled out. If the ductal carcinoma in situs not treated on time, 30%-50% of the women suffering from this cancer will get invasive cancer hence, it is very critical to treat the ducal carcinoma in situ even if it is not causing symptoms. In fact, in most cases, ductal carcinoma in situ does not produce any symptoms instead is diagnosed by a mammogram.
Post the diagnosis, treatment of the ductal carcinoma in situ depends on the tumour location, its size, the aggressiveness of cancer cells and family history. Most women who are diagnosed with DCIS get cured via a lumpectomy followed by radiation instead of getting the affected breast removed via mastectomy. Each case and cancer is different and hence, the best course of treatment can be decided by the doctor post-analysis of the situation. If a DCIS is treated on time, the recurrence of cancer in the breast can be prevented; however, it does not eliminate the already low-risk of dying from ductal carcinoma in situ. In many cases, the treatment of DCIS has been known to reduce the risk of cancer spreading or recurring, but it has not eliminated death in any way.
But there have been researches that have proven that ductal carcinoma in situ if treated on time can stop the spread of cancer and in fact sometimes, ductal carcinoma in situ grows so slowly that it does not harm a women’s health irrespective of its existence. As per research, among women diagnosed with DCIS, the risk of death from breast cancer is low at least for the 10 years following the diagnosis. Even though, it is critical to be aware of breast cancer symptoms, risk factors to know when to visit a doctor and get screened for breast cancer. More so, if diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, treatment course as suggested by the doctors can help reduce the risk of breast cancer death; however, even then it does not eliminate it completely.