Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and is a leading cause of death among women. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Rarely, men can also develop breast cancer. Lifestyle factors and reproductive factors play a vital role in the development of breast cancer.
Breast cancer usually begins in the cells of the lobules or ducts of the breast. Invasive breast cancer is cancer that spreads outside the ducts or lobules of the breast into the surrounding normal breast tissue. Sometimes, invasive cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body, through the lymphatic system, or via the blood stream.
Patients with early stage breast cancer may have no symptoms. However as the cancer progresses, a lump or mass may develop in the breast. One may feel such lump during self-breast examination and if you find something that worries you then you must see your doctor. Mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies, can be ordered by your GP to diagnose or detect breast cancer. Screening mammograms aid in the detection of breast cancer in its early stage, when it is likely to be most easily and successfully treated.
Modern treatment of breast cancer is tailored to each patient by a multidisciplinary team of doctors after considering many factors. These include not only the tumour type and stage, but also many patient related factors such as age, general health and values.
Early breast cancer is generally treated with a combination of surgery, hormone therapy (blocks hormones that promote tumour growth), radiation therapy and chemotherapy. More advanced breast cancers may be given chemotherapy before surgery. Your surgeon is usually the first specialist that you will meet from the multidisciplinary team.