Breast Cancer: Know the Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Breast cancer develops in the ducts or lobules of the breast and surrounding tissues. The glands that produce milk are called lobules, and the pathways that bring the milk from these glands to the nipple are called ducts. Sometimes, breast cancer can also develop in the fatty tissue within your breast.

Who Gets Breast Cancer?

Even though breast cancer develops mostly in women, men also contribute to a tiny percentage (1%) of breast cancer cases. On average, you can say that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. 

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Most breast cancer does not present with symptoms. Many are found on screening mammograms. If there are symptoms, those can include:

  • New lump in the breast
  • Pain in the breast 
  • Red, bumpy skin over your entire breast
  • Breast swelling 
  • Inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharges other than breast milk
  • Discharge of blood from your nipple
  • Scaling or peeling of skin on your breast and nipple
  • An abrupt change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Variation to the look of the skin on your breasts
  • A swelling or lump under your arm

If you have any of these symptoms, especially a lump in your breast, it is best to make sure it is not cancerous.  

Types of Breast Cancer

The two most common types of breast cancer are “in situ” or noninvasive and invasive. The basic difference between these two cancer types is that in situ cancers, the cancerous cells will be confined to the lobule or duct where they started. In contrast, in invasive cancers, the cancerous cells would spread to the surrounding tissues also.

Keep in mind if you do not treat in situ cancers early enough, they can become invasive. Other types of breast cancer, which are less common, include inflammatory breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Experts are not fully aware of what causes breast cancer. However, your chances of getting breast cancer depend on your age, personal health history, genetic factors, and diet.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

In addition to a physical examination, your doctor will also do a detailed breast exam to diagnose breast cancer. After that, to decide if your symptoms are caused by breast cancer or a benign breast condition, your doctor may request one or more diagnostic tests such as a mammogram, a breast ultrasound scan, breast MRI or a breast biopsy to help in the diagnosis. 

Breast Cancer Treatment

The treatment plan for breast cancer will depend on various factors, such as which stage it is in, how far it has progressed, and how big it is. Surgery is one of the most common and effective treatment options for breast cancer. Some women may need additional treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.

Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

While there are some risk factors you cannot control, such as having a family history of breast cancer, you can take certain preventive measures against breast cancer. These include:

  • Getting regular screenings
  • Following a healthy lifestyle
  • Staying active
  • Controlling your weight
  • Breastfeeding
  • Limiting or completely avoiding alcohol
  • Limiting your hormone therapy dose and duration

For more information on breast cancer and its treatment, contact us.


Dr. Sherry Johnson

Dr. Sherry Johnson is board-certified in General Surgery. She is the only fellowship trained breast oncologist in Anchorage. Dr. Johnson is a member of various professional organizations, including the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and Society of Surgical Oncology. She believes in providing comprehensive and compassionate care to the community that raised her. Dr. Johnson received her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina and Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Washington. She pursued her General Surgery Residency at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital in Michigan.

Surgery Center of Anchorage

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