As result of a recent international study, scientists have determined that the disease known as breast cancer is actually too broad of a term. Researchers have been able to detect at least 10 individual diseases that fall under the umbrella of breast cancer. This new discovery could allow for new, more specific treatment options for breast cancer as a whole.
Cancer develops when the normal cells of the body divide and grow abnormally or out of control. This uncontrollable growth produces an accumulation of cells which then form a tumor. If this mass of cells fails to function like normal cells, then the tumor is considered cancerous. While there is no clear-cut cause for breast cancer, there are several risk factors associated with the disease that increase your chances of developing it. These risk factors include: genetic factors, a personal or family history of breast cancer, a person’s age, diet and overall health.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women following skin cancer. It is estimated that 1 out of every 8 women will be told that they have breast cancer at some point in her life, which means 12% of women will get breast cancer. Following lung cancer, breast cancer is listed as the second leading cause of death among women. The American Cancer Society approximates more than 225, 000 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and nearly 40,000 will die from the disease.
Approximately 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are linked to genetic predisposition, all other occurrences of breast cancer are random. Cancers get specific names for the part of the body that they have originated in; cancer that originates in breast tissue is called breast cancer. Cancer can spread from it’s origin to other areas of the body. This process is called metastasis.
Breast Cancer symptoms can vary greatly and many types of breast cancer produce no obvious symptoms; other types may not cause symptoms right away. Often times, an abnormality may be seen on an x-ray or mammogram or a person may feel a lump or mass in or around the breast. Symptoms of breast cancer may include:
A lump or thick feeling in the breast or near the underarm that is not related to a menstrual cycle, a small lump, a notable difference in the appearance of the breast’s size or shape, a blood tinged or clear discharge from the nipples, a change in the texture or appearance of the areola, red skin appearance on the breast or nipple, a difference in the shape or posture of the nipple, a hardened round spot under the skin of the breast, any noticeable difference in appearance of either breast.
A lump in the breast is not the only symptom of breast cancer, and many breast lumps are not cancerous at all. Talk with your doctor for recommended breast cancer screenings and self-exams.
New Breast Cancer Study
Types Of Breast Cancer
Once your doctor has confirmed that you have breast cancer, you will likely undergo further testing to determine what type of breast cancer you have, be it invasive or noninvasive. The most commonly diagnosed types of breast cancer include:
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. This type of breast cancer originates in the milk ducts. The cancer is considered invasive because it penetrates the walls of the ducts to invade nearby tissue. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most prevalent type of breast cancer. It accounts for nearly 80% of all invasive occurrences.
- Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). This refers to ductal cancer in its earliest form, stage 0. In Situ means that the cancer has not spread from the spot it had originated. With DCIS, the cancer has started in the milk ducts but has not reached any nearby tissue. DCIS is curable in most cases, however, if left untreated it can develop into invasive cancer.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. This type of cancer originates in the milk producing lobules of the breast. It is considered invasive because the cancer has infiltrated the surrounding tissue or other areas of the body. This type of breast cancer is diagnosed in about 10% of all invasive cases.
- Lobular carcinoma In Situ (LCIS). This form of cancer is located only in the milk producing lobules of the breast. It is not considered a true form of cancer, but rather a marker for the possible development of future cancers. For women diagnosed with LCIS, it is of the utmost importance to have regular check-ups and mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Genes
Researchers have worked to identify certain genes related to breast cancer. These genes are oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Oncogenes are genes that influence the development of cancer when activated. Tumor suppressor genes help to prevent cells from progressing to cancer. If this gene is mutated in some way the formation of cancer is possible.
By identifying these 2 genes, researchers will be better able to pinpoint cancer causes and make treatments more specific. The identification of these genes also helped researchers to separate breast cancer into more specific types.
Breast Cancer: Not 1 Disease, But 10
The identification of the activity of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes has helped researchers discover 10 new subtypes of breast cancer. With this revelation doctors will, in the near future, be able to pinpoint more exact breast cancer diagnoses. With precise diagnosis the ability to treat breast cancer will also be more exact. The 10 separate diseases are identified by their gene activities, specifically, which genes are turned on and which are turned off.
The Next Step In Research
Researchers believe that the next logical step in the war against cancer is to now identify how molecular patterns work to make tumors grow. In identifying the tumor growth process, scientists will then be able to work on the development of new drugs to halt the abnormalities that promote tumor progression. The information gathered from this and future studies will be distributed worldwide to promote the development of new drugs to combat cancer.
Recent research has led to the discovery of a new classification of as many as 10 subtypes of breast cancer. This new development is essential in the war on breast cancer. The identification of genes responsible for the upstart of cancer is leading to more precise treatments. Research continues to further examine the process of tumor growth with the hope of developing new drugs to correct the faults in cells that progress to tumors.