Breast cancer is a malignant proliferation of epithelial cells lining the ducts or lobules of the breast (Harrison, 2018). This a frequently diagnosed, life-threatening cancer, which is 100 times more common in women than in men and it is a leading cause of cancer related deaths among women, second only to lung cancer, worldwide (Memnun, 2014). A breast consists of three main parts which are lobules, ducts, and connective tissue.
Breast cancer can begin in any of the parts of the breast, but most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules. There are different kinds of breast cancer including non-invasive, invasive, and metastatic breast cancers, as well as the intrinsic or molecular subtypes of breast cancer (CDC 2018). According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. The chance of any woman dying from breast cancer is around 1 in 38 (2.6%), which is significant (American cancer society 2020).
Many early breast carcinomas are asymptomatic. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. If a lump or mass is discovered, monitor for change in breast size, shape, nipple discharge or dimpling, scaling or for any axillary lump. Risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors, both environmental influences and genetic (inherited) factors. This includes advanced age (above 55), sex, women more common than men, early menarche, and menopause after fifty-five, inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene, family history, use of hormonal replacement therapy and unhealthy lifestyle (Sun, 2017).
Advances in screening and treatment for breast cancer have improved survival rates and early diagnosis of breast cancer is one of the best approaches to prevent the disease. Screening tests can help find breast cancer early before any symptoms appear and, in most cases, it is often first detected on a mammogram before it is felt by the patient. Screening modalities include Breast self-examination, clinical breast examination, mammography, Ultrasonography and Magnetic resonance imaging.
Breast cancer stage is usually expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IV — with stage 0 describing non-invasive cancers that remain within their original location and stage IV describing invasive cancers that have spread outside the breast to other parts of the body. Stages are determined on various factors such t tumor grade, hormone-receptor status, HER2 status, and possibly Oncotype DX test results (Btreastcancer.org, 2020). Treatment and prognosis depend on the stage of the cancer. Surgery and radiation therapy, along with adjuvant hormone or chemotherapy when indicated, are considered primary treatment(Harrison, 2018). Most of the time, metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured. However, treatment helps to slow the cancer progression and improve quality of life.