What is breast cancer?

What is breast cancer?



What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that forms in breast tissue. Malignant tumors are collections of cancer cells that develop rapidly into the surrounding tissue or spread to more distant parts of the body. This disease occurs almost always in women but can also occur in men.

Cancer cells can form in fat tissue in the breast, milk glands (lobules), or in the milk ducts (ducts)

How often does this disease occur?

This type of cancer most often occurs in women. This cancer occurs in 1 in 8 women in the world. This can be overcome by reducing your risk factors. Consult your doctor for more information.

Characteristics & symptoms

What are the characteristics of breast cancer?

The most characteristic feature of breast cancer is the appearance of a lump in the breast. Lumps characteristic of breast cancer have a hard texture with unclear boundaries and an uneven surface.

The lump also continues to stay 8 to 10 days after menstruation. If the lumps are characteristic of breast cancer close to the nipple, it will be seen that the nipple is pulled in and is rather difficult to move (sticky).

In addition to the appearance of lumps, other signs and characteristics of breast cancer that you can recognize are:

  • Changes in the size, shape, or appearance of the breasts.
  • Changes in the shape of the nipples.
  • Pain in the breast that never goes away, even when you have entered the menstrual period the following month. Even so, there are some women who do not experience pain or tenderness in their breasts.
  • The nipple secretes clear, brown, or yellow liquid.
  • Nipple suddenly reddened and swollen without a known cause.
  • Swelling around the armpits caused by enlarged lymph nodes in the area.
  • Veins are seen in the breast, consequently the veins in the breast are clearly visible.
  • At an advanced stage it starts to show abnormalities in the skin of the breast (such as orange peels or reddish skin), sometimes the skin also becomes curved like a dimple because it is attracted by a lump.

If you experience or suspect any of the symptoms and characteristics of breast cancer as mentioned above, you should immediately consult a doctor. This is done so that you get the right treatment according to your conditions. By responding to the characteristics of breast cancer, then your chances of recovering from this disease are also greater.

There may be some signs or symptoms of breast cancer that have not been mentioned. If you want to find out more about the characteristics of breast cancer, consult your doctor.

When should I see a doctor?

You should immediately see a doctor if you suspect that you have any of the signs or characteristics of breast cancer as mentioned above. Breast examination independently and regularly is important to do.

Generally, the symptoms of early-stage breast cancer do not cause pain. If you feel other symptoms of breast cancer, immediately go to the doctor without waiting for the pain to appear. Early detection increases the chances of surviving breast cancer patients.

Read more


What causes breast cancer?

The cause of breast cancer is not known for sure. Even so, experts believe that the cause of breast cancer is because breast cells develop abnormally and form a lump in the breast. This lump can spread to the surrounding tissue and to other parts of the body.

There are several conditions that can be factors that cause breast cancer. Doctors estimate that about 5-10 percent of the causes of breast cancer are related to gene 1 (BRCA1) and gene 2 (BRCA2) mutations inherited in the family. So if you have a family history of cancer in the breast, you should check your blood to detect the gene.

In addition to gene mutations, experts also agree that a person's medical history and lifestyle could be a factor in breast cancer.

Risk factors

Who is at risk for this disease?

Here are some risk factors that can cause breast cancer are:

  • Gender. Women are 100 times more often diagnosed with breasts than men. Having large breasts, experiencing early menstruation, and advanced menopause can also be other risk factors for breast cancer.
  • Age. Old age is a major risk factor that causes breast cancer and various other chronic diseases. As you get older, your risk gets higher.
  • Family history. This means that if you have a blood member in your family (mother, child, or sibling) who has breast cancer, you also have a high potential to experience the same thing.

In addition to some of the things already mentioned above, according to the American Cancer Society, lifestyle can also be a factor causing breast cancer such as obesity, alcoholics, taking birth control pills, having a first child in old age, not having children, using hormone replacement therapy.

Consult your doctor to find out more information related to other factors that cause this condition.

Medicines & Medications

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.

What breast cancer medications are commonly used?

Your doctor determines therapy as a breast cancer drug based on the following factors:

  • Types of cancer in the breast
  • Stage of cancer in the breast
  • Size of cancer in the breast
  • Cancer cell sensitivity to hormones
  • Your overall health condition

There are 5 types of standard therapy that can be done as breast cancer drugs, including:

1. Surgery

  • Conservative surgery, which removes cancer cells and lymph nodes involved.
  • Total mastectomy, which removes all breast affected by cancer.
  • Modified radical mastectomy (modified radical mastectomy), which removes all affected breast cancer, lymph nodes under the armpits, along the muscles in the chest, and sometimes some of the chest wall muscles.

2. Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is cancer therapy using high-powered X-rays targeted to kill cancer cells or inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This therapy is generally carried out regularly for women who are at high risk after undergoing a mastectomy procedure.

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, which is cancer therapy using drugs to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This therapy can be done before surgery to shrink the tumor before being removed. In addition, this therapy can also be done after surgery to prevent tumor growth again.

4. Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is cancer therapy by inhibiting the action of hormones and preventing the development of cancer cells. This therapy is effective only in breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones. Your doctor will do an examination to determine the type of cancer in your breast.

5. Target therapy

Target therapy is therapy that uses drugs or other chemicals to identify and attack cancer cells specifically without killing normal cells. This therapy includes:

  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
  • Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors)

The therapy used can be a combination of several therapies. Consult your doctor for treatment options that are right for you.

Various choices of breast cancer drugs used in chemotherapy

If you have symptoms of breast cancer in the early stages, there are several types of chemotherapy drugs that you can take. Early-stage breast cancer drugs commonly used in chemotherapy include anthracyclines (such as doxorubicin / Adriamycin® and epirubicin / Ellence®) and taxanes (such as paclitaxel / Taxol® and docetaxel / Taxotere®). This drug can also be used in combination with certain other drugs, such as fluorouracil (5-FU), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®), and carboplatin.

While breast cancer drugs for advanced stages that are often used in chemotherapy include:

  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel
  • Platinum Agents (cisplatin, carboplatin)
  • Vinorelbine (Navelbine®)
  • Capecitabine (Xeloda®)
  • Liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil®)
  • Gemcitabine (Gemzar®)
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Ixabepilone (Ixempra®)
  • Albumin-bound paclitaxel (catch-paclitaxel or Abraxane®)
  • Eribulin (Halaven®)

There may be other breast cancer drugs not mentioned above. Always consult a doctor about the breast cancer drug you are taking. Basically, breast cancer drugs will depend on the age, condition and development of cancer cells. That is why, always consult your doctor about breast cancer drugs that suit your needs.

Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes that can be made to overcome this disease?

The following lifestyle and home remedies can help you deal with breast cancer:

  • Healthy lifestyle . A healthy diet and regular exercise are important. You can start by reducing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking.
  • Healthy diet. Consumption of good nutrition is very important. You will have difficulty holding food in your stomach because the therapy you receive can cause nausea or change your taste sensations. This can help you eat smaller, more frequent meals a day.
  • Regular exercise . Cancer can cause prolonged weakness and will not improve with rest. Regular exercise can help you get rid of weakness. You can start by walking and choose a sport that is comfortable for you.


How to prevent breast cancer?

An effective way to prevent this disease is to avoid all the risk factors that cause it. In addition, being aware of the symptoms of breast cancer with early detection is also an important step to prevent this disease.

Here are some ways of early detection to be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer that you can do.

1. Check your own breasts

The easiest step to find out the symptoms of breast cancer is by breast self-examination or breast self-examination. The aim is to check for lumps in the breast. You can carry out these checks at home regularly. Routine checks will help you to recognize the texture of normal breast tissue.

Therefore, if one day you feel there is something unusual in the breast, you can immediately see a doctor. In this way, you will be able to easily detect symptoms of breast cancer.

The best time to examine the breasts is a few days after the menstrual cycle is over. Because hormonal changes can affect the shape and feeling of your breasts, the best check is when your breasts are in a normal status.

2. Mammography

In addition to doing breast self-examination, you can carry out routine mammography checks to detect the presence or absence of cancer cells in the breast. This examination is important to know the symptoms of early breast cancer. Mammography itself is an image scanning technique using low-dose x-ray beam to detect and diagnose cancer in the breast.

This procedure is generally required for women whose age is more than 40 years. However, if you or your family has a history of cancer in the breast, your doctor may recommend doing this examination earlier and more often.

When doing a memmography, your breasts will be affixed to the x-ray scanner screen. Then, a compressor will press your breast down to flatten the tissue to show a clearer picture of your breast.

For those of you who are doing this for the first time, you may feel a little pain or discomfort. But don't worry, this pain and discomfort won't last long.

During the procedure, the doctor will check the results of the image displayed on the scanner screen and ask the radiological technician to take some additional pictures if the results already appear to be unclear or require further examination. Don't panic, this is common to do.

3. Lifestyle changes

Some lifestyle changes that can help prevent breast cancer, namely:

  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is no more than one glass per liver. Better yet, stop consuming alcohol completely.
  • Regular exercise. Moderate intensity exercise routinely for at least 30 minutes every day. This can be started with just walking, biking, jogging, and so on. If necessary, ask your doctor about sports that suit your condition.
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. The combination of hormone therapy can increase the risk of getting cancer in the breast. That is why, talk back with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone exposure.
  • Healthy body weight. Try to get a healthy and ideal weight. If you need to lose a lot of weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to achieve this. Basically the key to losing weight is to reduce calorie intake and increase exercise.
  • Healthy diet. Food intake also plays an important role in preventing this cancer. Therefore, pay attention to your daily food intake. Eat foods with balanced nutrition from fruits and vegetables and avoid foods that contain high fat.

If you have questions, consult your doctor for the best solution for your problem.


US National Library of Medicine. Breast Cancer. 2016. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/breastcancer.html - summary Accessed January 18th, 2016

Cancer.gov. Breast Treatment. 2016. http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-treatment-pdq Accessed January 18th, 2016

Cancer.org. 2016. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-after-lifestyle-changes Accessed January 18th, 2016

Breast cancer http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/basics/causes/con-20029275

Reviewed: July 17, 2019 | Last Edited: July 17, 2019

Editor'S Choice