Breast cancer is a disease in which the breast cells grow out of control. There are different types of breast cancer. The type of breast cancer depends on the mammary cells that turn into cancer.
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in men and women, but is much more common in women.
The signs and symptoms of breast cancer can be:
The exact cause of breast cancer is not fully understood but we know that the risk of breast cancer increases with age.
After puberty, a woman’s breast consists of fat, connective tissue and thousands of lobes, tiny glands that produce milk for lactation. Tiny tubes or tubes transport milk to the nipple.
In cancer, the body cells multiply uncontrollably. It is an excessive cell growth that causes cancer.
Breast cancer usually begins in the lining of the milk ducts or in the lobes that supply them with milk. From there it can spread to other parts of the body.
Some treatments eliminate or destroy the disease in the breast and near tissues, such as lymph nodes. This includes:
Surgery to remove the entire breast, called mastectomy, or just to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue, lumpectomy or surgery to maintain the breast. There are several types of mastectomies and lumpectomies.
Radiotherapy that uses high energy waves to kill cancer cells.
Hormone therapy uses drugs to prevent hormones, especially estrogen, from stimulating the growth of breast cancer cells. Drugs include tamoxifen, in pre- and post-menopausal women and aromatase inhibitors, including anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin) and letrozole (Femara) in postmenopausal women. Side effects can include hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Some types of therapy work by preventing the ovaries from producing hormones, either through surgery or medication.
Fulvestrant (Faslodex) is an injection that prevents the binding of estrogen to cancer cells.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Because these powerful medicines fight the disease, they can also cause side effects such as nausea, hair loss, early menopause, hot flashes and tiredness.
Targeted therapies such as lapatinib (Tykerb), pertuzumab (Perjeta) and trastuzumab (Herceptin). These drugs stimulate the body’s immune system to destroy cancer. They target breast cancer cells that contain a high proportion of HER2. Palbociclib (Ibrance) and ribociclib (Kisqali) block a substance that promotes cancer growth. Palbociclib and ribociclib are indicated with an aromatase inhibitors for postmenopausal women with certain advanced cancers. Abemaciclib and palbociclib are sometimes used in combination with a hormonal treatment with fulvestrant (Faslodex).
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