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  • Writer's pictureAnisha S. Matheen

What is Breast Cancer?

'Don't let breast cancer take away the motivation to achieve your dreams.' Dianna Cohen

Fig 1.1

Breast cancer is considered one of the most significant public health issues among women. Following the World Cancer Research Fund, breast cancer is regarded globally as the most prevalent cancer in women. Breast cancer is a class of cancer that emerges from breast tissue.

Cancer: Abnormal cells within the body begin to divide uncontrollably, eventually causing it to spread into the surrounding tissue. Cancer possesses the capacity to destroy healthy body tissue. (Mayo Clinic)

Uncontrollable growth of any of the components within the breast tissue causes the development of breast cancer. Although especially scarce, breast cancer can also transpire within the male population. Breast tissue is comprised of lobules and ducts. Lobules are glands associated with the production of milk. Ducts carry milk produced by the lobules to the nipple and also connect the lobules to surrounding lymphatic, connective and fatty tissue.

Signs and Symptoms

The overwhelming majority of cases (around 80%) are identified when a prospective patient feels an unusual lump in their breast. Additionally, lumps caught in lymph nodes of the armpits may likewise indicate the presence of breast cancer. However, there are multiple other signs associated with breast cancer. This includes but is not limited to significant pain, change in shape or size of the breast tissue, formation of skin abnormalities within the breast (such as dimpling, redness or itchiness), unintentional nipple discharge or a recently inverted nipple.

Fig 1.2 Symptoms Arrangement


The diagnosis of breast cancer is customarily executed through screening or following up on a sign or symptom. The performance of a diagnostic exam succeeds in the presence of one of the signs or symptoms mentioned previously. During which a physician may recommend a specific type of imagining be taken. This includes but is not limited to the following:

Diagnostic Mammogram: A specialised breast X-ray which assists in the investigation of suspicious breast changes. Multiple X-ray pictures must be taken from several different angles to make an accurate diagnosis.

Breast MRI: MRI machines emit both magnetic, and radio waves with are utilised in the formation of images of the inside of the breast tissue.

Breast ultrasound: An ultrasound machine emits sound waves to produce imaging of the interior of the breast tissues - which is then presented on a monitor. The ultrasound is primarily used to differentiate between whether or not a lump is filled with fluid or solid material.

Breast Biopsy: A procedure regularly executed to retrieve a small sample of breast tissue to be then tested in a laboratory. This allows us to evaluate an abnormal area within the breast tissue to determine whether or not it's cancer.

Raising Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is a month dedicated to remembering those we lost, celebrating those who survived, appreciate those still fighting and support the work done for breast cancer research in the scientific community. A pink ribbon is the most notable symbol of breast cancer awareness and is often sold at fundraisers to raise money to support research and treatment for those who can't afford it.

Fig 1.3 Pink Ribbon Drawing


Works Cited

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“Cancer - Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 2018,

Fuller, Mackenzie S., et al. “Breast Cancer Screening.” Medical Clinics of North America, vol. 99, no. 3, May 2015, pp. 451–468,, 10.1016/j.mcna.2015.01.002. Accessed 11 Aug. 2019.

Jafari, Seyed Hamed, et al. “Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Imaging Techniques and Biochemical Markers.” Journal of Cellular Physiology, vol. 233, no. 7, 19 Jan. 2018, pp. 5200–5213, 10.1002/jcp.26379.

Kolak, Agnieszka, et al. “Primary and Secondary Prevention of Breast Cancer.” Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine : AAEM, vol. 24, no. 4, 2017, pp. 549–553,, 10.26444/aaem/75943.

McDonald, E. S., et al. “Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Breast Cancer.” Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol. 57, no. Supplement_1, 1 Feb. 2016, pp. 9S-16S, 10.2967/jnumed.115.157834.

McDonald, Jasmine A., et al. “Alcohol Intake and Breast Cancer Risk: Weighing the Overall Evidence.” Current Breast Cancer Reports, vol. 5, no. 3, 19 May 2013, pp. 208–221, 10.1007/s12609-013-0114-z.

National Cancer Institute. “What Is Cancer?” National Cancer Institute,, 2007,

Saunders, Christobel, and Sunil Jassal. Breast Cancer. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Seitz, Helmut K., et al. “Epidemiology and Pathophysiology of Alcohol and Breast Cancer: Update 2012.” Alcohol and Alcoholism, vol. 47, no. 3, 29 Mar. 2012, pp. 204–212, 10.1093/alcalc/ags011. Accessed 24 July 2019.

Singletary, S. Eva. “Rating the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer.” Annals of Surgery, vol. 237, no. 4, 1 Apr. 2003, pp. 474–482,, 10.1097/01.SLA.0000059969.64262.87.

Veronesi, Umberto, et al. “Breast Cancer.” The Lancet, vol. 365, no. 9472, May 2005, pp. 1727–1741, 10.1016/s0140-6736(05)66546-4. Accessed 13 Oct. 2020.

Williams. Nursing. Interpreting Signs & Symptoms. Ambler, Pa, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007.

Winters, Stella, et al. “Breast Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention, and Screening.” Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science, vol. 151, 2017, pp. 1–32,, 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2017.07.002.

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