Breast Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment Options


Approximately 30% of new cancer cases detected in women every year happen to be breast cancer cases. It is considered to be the most common type of cancer found in women worldwide. A good understanding of breast cancer and early detection of the condition can help in making the condition treatable.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a cancer that develops in the cells of the breast. The condition develops when the abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, which causes the formation of a lump or a tumor. 

Breast cancer can develop in both men and women, but the condition is more commonly seen in women.

Causes of Breast Cancer

One of the early signs of puberty in females is the development of the breasts. The breasts are made up of connective tissue, fat, and many lobules. The lobules are the small glands that help in the production of milk. Small ducts or tubes carry the milk towards the nipple.

Breast cancer is caused due to the abnormal growth of the cells in the breast tissue. Although the exact cause of breast cancer development is not known, the following mechanisms are thought to be responsible for the condition:

  • Genetic mutations or damage to the DNA can lead to breast cancer. This can occur due to exposure to estrogen, the presence of inherited genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, or inherited genetic disorders.
  • When someone develops breast cancer, the immune system fails to attack the abnormal DNA or tissue growths. This results in the uncontrollable multiplication of the cells in the breast tissue. The excessive growth of the tumor cells deprives the surrounding healthy cells from receiving adequate nutrients and energy.
  • Breast cancer development usually begins either in the inner lining of the milk ducts or the lobules that are responsible for supplying them with milk. The cancer can then spread to the other parts of the breast and the body.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Knowing about the symptoms of breast cancer can help in the early diagnosis and proper treatment of the condition before the condition becomes life-threatening. The common symptoms of breast cancer include the following:

  • A lump or mass in the breast tissue. The lump is usually painless, hard to touch, and has irregular edges, but in some cases, the lump could also be soft, tender, and rounded in appearance.
  • Changes in the shape, size, or appearance of the breast tissue.
  • Thickening or swelling of a part of the breast.
  • Puckering or dimpling of the skin over the breast.
  • Changes in the nipple, like scaling, redness, or inversion of the nipple.
  • Unexplained shrinkage or swelling of the breast, especially when it is seen only on one side.
  • Pain in the nipple or breast area.
  • Discharge from the nipple other than the breast milk.
  • Changes in the skin over the breast, like scaling, peeling, flaking, redness, or an orange peel appearance.
  • Unexplained loss of weight.

What are the Risk Factors of Breast Cancer?

Certain factors increase the risk of breast cancer development. Understanding these factors is important for the prevention and early detection of breast cancer. The factors that could increase your risk of developing breast cancer are:

  • More common in women compared to men.
  • Increase in age, with most cases of breast cancer affecting women above 50 years of age.
  • Genetic factors, such as mutations in specific genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Family history of breast cancer, especially in your immediate family like your mother, daughter, or sister.
  • History of breast cancer previously can increase the risk of recurrence, development of breast cancer in the other breast, or a different portion of the same breast.
  • History of radiation exposure, especially in the chest region.
  • Delay in childbirth, having your firstborn after 30 years of age, or not having children.
  • Early menstruation (before the age of 12) or delayed menopause (after the age of 55)
  • Prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
  • Consumption of alcohol.
  • Obesity or being overweight.
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Women with dense breast tissue.

Regular screening, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and reduced alcohol consumption can help in reducing your chances of developing breast cancer.

What are the Treatment Options for Breast Cancer?

The type of treatment you undergo for breast cancer will depend on several factors like the type and stage of breast cancer you have, your age, overall health status, sensitivity to hormones, and your individual preferences. You can undergo successful breast cancer treatment at the best hospital in Kanpur, Ujala Cygnus Hospitals. It has some of the most skilled and experienced oncologists to provide you with breast cancer treatment using the latest technology and equipment in a comfortable setting.

The common treatment options for breast cancer:

Surgery: The different types of surgeries that may be recommended include the following:
  • Lumpectomy: The procedure involves the surgical removal of the breast tissue with a small part of the healthy tissue surrounding it. This procedure is generally performed in early-stage cases of breast cancer.
  • Mastectomy: This procedure involves the surgical removal of the entire breast along with the adjacent armpit lymph nodes. This type of procedure is generally recommended for larger breast tumors where breast-conservation surgery like lumpectomy is not a treatment option.
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy: This surgery involves the examination of the nearby lymph nodes to check if the cancer has spread beyond the breast region. If the reports of sentinel lymph node biopsy are negative, there is no need to remove the lymph nodes in the armpit region.
  • Axillary lymph node dissection: If the sentinel nodes are found to be cancerous, many lymph nodes in the armpit region will require removal to prevent the cancer from spreading further.

The patient may be provided with neoadjuvant therapy before surgery, which helps in shrinking the tumor size and making their surgical removal easier. Adjuvant therapy may be provided after surgery to decrease the risk of cancer recurrence after surgical removal.

  • Radiation therapy: This procedure involves the use of high-energy rays to target and kill the cancer cells. The procedure is commonly recommended after lumpectomy or mastectomy to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: The procedure involves the use of some drugs to kill the cancer cells or slow down their growth. The procedure is generally recommended in cases of breast cancer that has spread to the surrounding lymph nodes or other body parts, known as metastatic breast cancer.
  • Targeted therapy: The procedure involves the use of drugs that target some molecules or pathways that are involved in the growth of cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy: This type of treatment prevents the recurrence of hormone-sensitive breast cancers after treatment. Hormone therapy works by blocking the effects of sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) on the cancer cells or by decreasing the production of the hormones in the body.
  • Immunotherapy: This treatment involves the use of drugs that can help the immune system of the body in recognizing and attacking the cancer cells.

Supportive or palliative care is provided to the patient to manage the side effects during and after cancer treatment. It helps in relieving the physical side effects and pain associated with cancer treatment and also provides emotional support to the patient through support groups and counseling. 


Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting women worldwide, but a thorough knowledge of its risk factors and symptoms can help in preventing the condition or treating it at an early stage.

Ujala Cygnus Hospitals is well-equipped to provide you with the best guidelines and care for the prevention and early detection of breast cancer, as well as successful treatment of the condition. Additionally, our expert group of doctors will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and provide a customized treatment plan based on your health requirements.

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