Although the overall incidence and death rates of cancer may be declining in certain parts of the world, cancer remains a leading cause of death. Furthermore, breast cancer continues to be a very commonly diagnosed cancer for women, although men can also receive a breast cancer diagnosis, but it is significantly less frequent.
One single cell can become an abnormal mass of tissue growth in the breast. A breast tumor can develop without a person knowing it. The process is based on several factors such as physical carcinogens, biological carcinogens, or an individual’s genetics.
A breast tumor can originate in different tissues, such as the ducts, which are the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, or the glands that make milk. Cancer results after these abnormal cells grow and invade the rest of the breast, but it can also enter the bloodstream and affect entire body, in some cases. Metastasis, or the spread of the abnormal cells into other parts of the body, is harder to treat and a major cause of death from cancer.
Like many other cancers, breast cancer can be prevented through early detection. The a common detection method for a breast tumor is a screening mammogram, or an X-ray of the breast. Current guidelines suggest women aged 40 years or older receive a screening mammogram every one to two years, but individuals with a family history of breast cancer are encouraged to seek earlier screening.
A mammogram is an expensive screening test, and patients in some countries may not have this option. A dense, white mass confirms a malignant, or cancerous, breast tumor on the mammogram. Malignant breast tumors often have an irregular shape, while benign breast tumors are round or oval.
Doctors will also conduct physical examinations of the breasts during regular office visits to look for lumps. Additionally, individuals can do self-detection for a breast tumor by monitoring any lumps month after month. The best time to examine breasts is just before a period.
A tumor in the breast feels bumpy, hard and reluctant to move as the other tissue does. Most suspicious lumps are benign, or harmless, but the presence of benign tumors may increase a woman’s risk of future cancer.
Only a physician can ultimately confirm whether a breast tumor detected through X-ray or self-examination is benign or malignant. Following the finding of any breast tumor on an ultrasound or mammogram, a physician will order a biopsy of the mass to completely confirm its nature.