Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the world and in Brazil after non-melanoma skin cancer. Breast cancer currently accounts for about 28% of new cases of cancer in women. Breast cancer also affects men, but is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cases of the disease. Relatively rare before 35 years, above this age its incidence increases progressively, especially after 50 years. Statistics indicate an increase in its incidence in both developed and developing countries.
Breast cancer is a disease caused by the disordered multiplication of breast cells. This process generates abnormal cells that multiply, forming a tumor. There are several types of breast cancer. Therefore, the disease can evolve in different ways. Some types have rapid development, while others grow more slowly. These distinct behaviors are due to the characteristic of each tumor.
Breast cancer doesn't have only one cause. Age is one of the most important risk factors for the disease (about four out of five cases occur after the age of 50). Other factors that increase the risk of the disease are divided into environmental factors, reproductive and hormonal history factors, and genetic and hereditary factors.
Environmental and behavioral factors:
* Obesity and overweight after menopause;
* Sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity;
* Alcohol consumption;
* Frequent exposure to ionizing radiation (X-rays).
Factors of reproductive and hormonal history:
* First menstruation before 12 years;
* Not having children;
* First pregnancy after 30 years;
* Stop menstruating (menopause) after the age of 55;
* Use of hormonal contraceptives (estrogen-progesterone);
* Have done postmenopausal hormone replacement, mainly for more than five years.
Genetic and hereditary factors:
* Family history of ovarian cancer;
* Cases of breast cancer in the family, especially before the age of 50;
* Family history of breast cancer in men;
* Genetic alteration, especially in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
The presence of one or more of these risk factors does not mean that the woman will necessarily have the disease. It is important to emphasize that not having breastfed is not a risk factor for breast cancer. Breastfeeding as long as possible is a protective factor for cancer. So, non-breastfeeding promotes the loss of a protective factor, which is different from meaning a risk factor
About 30% of breast cancer cases can be prevented by the adoption of healthy habits such as:
* Practice physical activity;
* Eat in a healthy way;
* Maintain proper body weight;
* Avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages;
* Avoid use of synthetic hormones such as contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies.
Breast cancer can be perceived in early stages, in most cases, through the following signs and symptoms:
* Lump, fixed and usually painless: it is the main manifestation of the disease, being present in about 90% of cases when cancer is perceived by the woman herself
* Reddish, retracted or orange peel-like breast skin
* Changes in the breast beak (nipple)
* Small nodules in the armpits or neck
* Spontaneous output of abnormal fluid through the nipples
These signs and symptoms should always be investigated by a doctor to assess the risk of cancer. It is important that women observe their breasts whenever they feel comfortable to do so (whether in the bath, at the time of changing clothes or in another situation of daily life), without specific technique, valuing the casual discovery of small breast alterations.
Breast cancer can be detected in early stages, in most cases, thus increasing the possibility of less aggressive treatments with satisfactory success rates. All women, regardless of age, should be encouraged to know their body to know what is and what is not normal in their breasts. Most breast cancers are discovered by women themselves.
For the investigation, in addition to clinical examination of the breasts, imaging tests may be recommended, such as mammography, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. Diagnostic confirmation is only made, however, by means of biopsy, a technique that consists of the removal of a fragment of the nodule or suspected lesion by means of punctures (needle extraction) or a small surgery. The material removed is analyzed by the pathologist for the definition of the diagnosis.
Many advances have been taking place in the treatment of breast cancer in recent decades. There is now more knowledge about the various forms of presentation of the disease and various therapies are available. Treatment of breast cancer depends on the stage in which the disease is (staging) and the type of tumor. May include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy (target therapy).