What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of cancer cells in the breasts. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer that affects everyone. Though it may occur both in men and women, it is highly common in women.
Breast cancer tumours can usually be seen on an X-ray or experienced as a lump.
It is important to understand that most breast cancers remain benign and not cancerous. They are not life-threatening, but some types of benign lumps can also manifest as breast cancer. If you have any lump or growth on your breath that needs evaluation, make sure to consult your healthcare professional or doctor. Only after the diagnostic tests, you learn whether the breast lumps are cancerous or noncancerous.
Where does cancer start?
Breast cancers can begin in different parts of the breast. It may initially grow in the ducts that transport milk to the nipples or in the glands that produce breast milk.
Less common forms of breast cancer include phyllodes tumour and angiosarcoma.
Also, breast cancer may begin in other tissues in the breast. They are called sarcomas and lymphomas.
Occasionally, breast cancer will cause a lump in the breast.
How does breast cancer spread?
The cancer of the breast spreads when the cells go into the blood or lymph system and are carried to other parts of the body.
The lymph system is a web of lymph vessels available throughout the body, and that connects lymph nodes (small bean-shaped collections of immune cells). The fluid in the lymph contains by-products of the tissues and some other waste materials, including immune cells.
The lymph is required to drain the fluid away from the breast, but in the case of cancer, tumours may enter vessels and grow uncontrollably in lymph nodes.
Signs and Symptoms
The first apparent sign of breast cancer is the thickening of the tissue in the breast or a lump in the armpit.
Other usual symptoms include:
- pain or discomfort in the armpits or breast that does not go away even with changes in a monthly cycle
- tenderness or redness of the skin of the breast
- a rash around or on one of the nipples
- bloody discharge from a nipple
- an inverted nipple
- variations in the size or shape of the breast
- peeling or scaling of the skin on the areas around the nipple
Stages of breast cancer
The stages of breast cancer are defined according to the size of the tumour and whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Normally, stages are defined from 0 to 4, with further subcategories at each stage.
- Stage 0: Initially, the cells are limited to the inside of the ducts and have not spread into nearby tissues. It is also known as ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS.
- Stage 1: The tumour has not disrupted any lymph nodes, or probably there are only a few cancer cells in the lymph nodes. The tumour grows up to 2 centimetres (cm) across.
- Stage 2: If the tumour is 2 cm across, it has spread to nearby nodes. But if it is 2-5 cm across, it may not spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: By this time, the tumour has spread to several other lymph nodes, if it is up to 5cm across, while for a tumour exceeding 5 cm, it has spread to several lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: Cancer has grown to widespread organs, most often the bones, brain, lungs or livers.
Researchers still don’t know what causes the growth of cancer cells. It is known that once they develop, they multiply abnormally and continue to destroy healthy cells, forming a massive lump. As they tend to grow aggressively, they may grow through the breast to the lymph nodes to the other parts of the body.
Breast cancer most often occurs in the glands that produce breast milk or in the glandular tissues called lobules or in other cells or tissue within the breast.
But there are risk factors that claim to increase your risk of breast cancer, such as:
- Being female. Women are more likely to get breast cancer than men do.
- Age. With ageing, healthy cells in the body start to deplete, so it increases your risk of breast cancer.
- History of breast conditions. If you have had a breast biopsy for conditions like atypical hyperplasia, you have an increased risk of breast cancer.
- History of breast cancer. Having breast cancer in one of your breasts increases your risk of cancer in the second one also. Also, if anyone in your family has had breast cancer, your risk expands. But, this is not sure.
- Genetic mutations. Certain genes pose a threat to breast cancer in many females. Such genes are often passed down from parents to children.
- Menopause at an early age. Females who have had menopause at an early age are more likely to get breast cancer.
- Not having any pregnancy. Women who did not have any pregnancies have a greater risk of breast cancer than women who had.
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy. If you have consumed hormonal medications that included estrogen and progesterone to work on menopause, you have an increased risk of breast cancer. However, the risk decreases when you stop taking those medications.
- Monthly cycle started at an early age. Having your first period before you turned 12 puts you at the risk of breast cancer.
- Radiation therapy. If you have received radiation treatment during your childhood or adulthood, your risk is many times higher.
- Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol also swells the risk of breast cancer.
Ayurvedic treatment for breast cancer
Ayurvedic treatment has a special significance in the treatment of complex health conditions. In Ayurveda, a disease is treated by examining the body type and life energies the body is ruling.
Aggravation of doshas and disruption in the working of the channels put a person at risk of cancer. During cancer, the unhealthy cells or tumors grow abruptly, so the aim is to restore the growth of healthy cells to invade the tumour.
At AyuKarma, we ensure that all the procedures we employ in the treatment are useful for your health. The detoxification begins with Panchakarma in a three-way process- internal purification with the help of herbal concoctions, external purification using herbal oils, Lepam, and the third is the detoxification of the blood.
All the procedures are performed according to the severity of cancer. For advanced-staged cancer, we often go for a more intensive approach.
If you want to know more about our ayurvedic approach to breast cancer, consult us now.