Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer.
Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue.
Signs of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, a newly-inverted nipple, or a red or scaly patch of skin. In those with distant spread of the disease, there may be bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, or yellow skin.
Risk factors for developing breast cancer include being female, obesity, lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, ionizing radiation, early age at first menstruation, having children late or not at all, older age, prior history of breast cancer, and family history.
The selective estrogen receptor modulators (such as tamoxifen) reduce the risk of breast cancer but increase the risk of thromboembolism and endometrial cancer. There is no overall change in the risk of death.
Standard surgeries include:
• Mastectomy: Removal of the whole breast.
• Quadrantectomy: Removal of one-quarter of the breast.
• Lumpectomy: Removal of a small part of the breast.
Chemotherapy is predominantly used for cases of breast cancer in stages 2–4, and is particularly beneficial in estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) disease. The chemotherapy medications are administered in combinations, usually for periods of 3–6 months. One of the most common regimens, known as “AC”, combines cyclophosphamide with doxorubicin. Sometimes a taxane drug, such as docetaxel, is added, and the regime is then known as “CAT”. Another common treatment is cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil (or “CMF”).