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HomeAustraliaShocking breast cancer diagnoses for Brisbane's Emma Perkins while pregnant

Shocking breast cancer diagnoses for Brisbane’s Emma Perkins while pregnant


What is breast cancer?

It comes from a cancer cell that develops in the lining of a duct or lobe in one of the breasts.

When breast cancer has spread to surrounding tissue, it is called “invasive.” Some people are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

Most cases develop in people over the age of 50, but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men, although this is rare.

Staging tells how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage, and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

Cancer cells are classified from low, which means slow growing, to high, which means fast growing. High-grade cancers are more likely to come back after they are first treated.

What causes breast cancer?

A cancerous tumor starts from an abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is not clear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This causes the cell to be abnormal and multiply ‘out of control’.

Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the chance, such as genetics.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most are non-cancerous and are fluid-filled cysts, which are benign.

The first place that breast cancer usually spreads is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this happens, you will develop a swelling or lump in one armpit.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

If you are confirmed to have breast cancer, more tests may be needed to see if it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound of the liver, or a chest X-ray.

How is breast cancer treated?

Treatment options that may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments is used.

How successful is the treatment?

The prognosis is better in those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumor at an early stage can provide a good chance of cure.

Routine mammography offered to women ages 50 to 70 means more breast cancers are diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

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