Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in the cells of breast tissue. It is normally found during routine gynecologic annual exams where a mammogram is performed. If a mammogram shows areas of concern, then biopsies will be done next. Most of the time, when shadows are found on a mammogram of older women, those turn out to be cancerous. Genetic testing can ascertain whether there was a predisposing genetic factor to developing cancer.
The common symptoms and types of breast cancer include the following:
Getting tested for the RCA1 and BRCA2 genes is done to rule out genetic predisposition. These two genes were only isolated some 25 years ago, it can be learned through this testing that she may have had breast cancer that went undiagnosed. It is very important to find out if there is a genetic predisposition to developing cancer.
Performing regular self breast exams is a crucial step to finding lumps in the breast tissue. This should be avoided because of being scared of finding something, but rather should be done regularly to intercept any changes quickly. This should be done once a month. Many lumps found in breasts are benign, but the fact remains they should be immediately investigated.
Being mindful of any changes on the skin of the breast, like if it takes on an “orange peel” appearance. If you change laundry detergent, or wear a new fragrance, then a rash on or near the breast could be a normal reaction, but aside from those few circumstances, there are few reasons to develop a rash on one’s breast.
In addition, and not to be confused with galactorrhea which is a benign nipple discharge, papillomas can present with bloody nipple discharge. This must be checked immediately as the potential for malignancy in this case of discharge does exist.
Swelling or darkening of the breast can be indicative of the very deleterious inflammatory breast cancer. In this case, cancer cells block the lymphatic system, causing fluid to remain trapped in the breast, which is what causes the swelling. The largest blood vessels in the breast are arteries, in particular axillary and internal thoracic and these arteries can be compromised in breast cancers.
At times, breast cancer is fed by estrogen, and if this is the case, it is called estrogen (ER+) and progesterone (PR+) cancer. Breast cancer can also be inflammatory, ER and PR negative, and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) is another protein that is studied with breast cancer. HER2 can be positive or negative and it is found on the surface of cancer cells of the breast, ovaries, pancreas and stomach cancers as well. Most cancer diagnosis will read something like ER+/PR+ and HER2-. They can also be triple-negative, which is a very difficult form of breast cancer to treat.
A rash that is scaly and red, which can develop on nipples, is called Paget’s disease. In 90% of the cases of those diagnosed with Paget’s disease, it is later found that the cause of the rash is invasive ductal carcinoma that has spread outside of the breast tissue.