Fight against Breast Cancer

Shruti Saxena

Knowing your breast

Breasts also known as the mammary glands are a pair of glandular organs whose basic function is to produce milk at the time of childbirth when hormonal changes take place. Our breasts are comprised of fatty tissue, which begin from the front of the chest and further expand down and around the area of the armpit. Each breast is hold up by ligaments and large muscles.

Each breast has sections namely lobes, which are divided into lobules that end in the milk glands. The darker area of skin that surrounds the nipple is called the areola. There are large glands at the edge of the areola that secrete fluid which act as lubricant for the nipple.

Development of breast

Our breasts keep changing continuously right from when we attain puberty, through adolescence and then finally from the childbearing years into the menopause. This cycle is affected by changing levels in the female hormone namely estrogen.

For most girls, starting at the age of nine to 11, breasts development begins. And like several other changes that a girl attains at the time of puberty, changes associated to the monthly menstrual cycle are common. Such as, before your menstrual cycle begins, a change that is most evident in your breasts is that they may swell up, pain and feel dull. But, as soon as your period is over, this dullness and feeling of a lump becomes less or goes away completely.

Similarly, at the time when a woman is pregnant, the eminent changes that occur are an increase in the size of the breasts, darkening of nipples after a woman has given birth.

Around the menopause lumps tend to appear. These often turn out to be breast cysts.

What is breast cancer?

Breast Cancer is a form of cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts which carry the milk to the nipple and lobules that make milk. It is the resultant of an abnormal cell growth in one or both breasts. These infected cells further invade nearby tissues and form a mass, called a malignant tumor.

Breast cancer occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.

The common types of breast cancer include ductal cancer, lobular cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, medullary cancer, phyllodes tumor, angiosarcoma, mucinous carcinoma, mixed tumors.

What causes breast cancer?

The exact causes of breast cancer are not known by the doctors yet. But, the risk factors for breast cancer include:

Old age
Genetic alterations
Using hormone therapy after menopause
Lack of physical activity
Being overweight or obese
Not breast-feeding
Not having children, or not having children until after age 30
Drinking alcoholic beverages
Your race and ethnicity

Breast Cancer awareness

Every woman should be aware of the various changes that her breasts undergo throughout her adult life. She must also be aware of how her breasts look and feel normally. It is important part of your body and needs attention.

What to look for

Get into the habit of looking at and feeling your breasts from time to time. There is no set way to do this. You can decide what you are comfortable with and when is it convenient for you.

After examining and understanding the usual state of your breasts, look out for any changes that are new or unusual in your breast, such as:

Changes in breast size
A nipple that has become inverted (pulled in) or changed its position or shape
Rashes on or around the nipple
Discharge from any of your nipples
Puckering or dimpling of the skin
Has the area around your armpit or around your collarbone swelled?
Lump or thickening in your breast
Steady pain in one part of your breast or armpit that is unusual

Can breast cancer be prevented?

The good news is that, yes, you can keep away from this disease and stay as healthy as you to some extent by following below mentioned health tips:

Start by eating a healthy diet which includes a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Include exercise as a regular part of your daily life
Stay at a healthy weight.
Limit the amount of alcohol consumption

Still, there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, so it is very important to have regular exams and mammograms if you notice any unusual change.

Breast Cancer awareness events

Major breast cancer charities organise various events every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Events like races, day-long walks for your life etc are organised.

Theme parties are also a popular event organised by various offices which celebrate ‘pink day, when the employees of an organization wear pink clothing or accessories to mark their support. The money raised is donated to breast cancer care or research programs.

Pink days

As we all know that the color pink is considered feminine in modern Western countries. So, the pink ribbon is the basic symbol used worldwide to represent breast cancer, fear of it, hope for the future and people or business who publicly support this movement.

Organisations associated with breast cancer use the pink colour ribbon to mark their support for breast cancer, to promote breast cancer awareness and to support fundraising.

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