Breast cancer


Breast cancer occurs when cells within the breast start multiplying unusually to form a tumor. It’s one of the foremost common cancers known in India, and women between the ages of 30 to 50 are at a high risk of developing it.Breast cancer affects breast tissue that contains milk-producing glands called lobules and thin tubes called ducts. Breast cancer usually affects women but can also occur in men and children, though it is very rare.

Types of Breast Cancer

There are several types of breast cancer. These can affect various parts of the breast. Breast cancer is often divided into non-invasive and invasive types.

  • Non-invasive breast cancer : This is seen in the ducts of the breast and does not have the ability to spread outside the breast. The most common type of non-invasive cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).
  • Invasive cancer : Invasive cancer is more aggressive and spreads outside the breast. The most common form of breast cancer is invasive ductal breast cancer. It is seen around the ducts of the breast and accounts for about 80% of all cases.
What are the Causes of breast cancer?

The actual cause of breast cancer is not known, but there are some factors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

The factors that increase the risk of breast cancer include:

  • Age - Most breast cancers are diagnosed after the age of 50.
  • Family history – having a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may increase the risk for the development of breast cancer.
  • Intake of alcoholic liquor.
  • Having dense breasts.
  • Never being pregnant or having the first child after 30 years of age.
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Not Breastfeeding
  • Obesity
  • Hormone therapy after menopause (estrogen with progestin).
  • A personal history of radiation therapy especially to the head, neck or chest
  • A personal history of non-cancerous lump
  • Intake of certain anti-miscarriage drug.
  • Menstrual periods and menopause.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer are as follows:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Pain in breast
  • Redness over breast’s skin
  • Visible changes in the breast’s shape, size or appearance
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Swelling
  • Inverted nipple
  • A lump in the armpit
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of the skin

Breast cancer is treatable, and chances of survival increase if it is detected on time. The best way of early diagnosis is to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.


The doctor will ask for the medical history which will be followed by a physical examination. During the physical examination of the breast, the patient will be examined for the size of breast, location and abnormality of the nipple, color and texture of the nipple and lump in the breast. Once some abnormality is detected, the patient will be subjected to the following investigations.

  • Mammogram and Sonography of the breasts.
  • Chest X-rays and ultrasound of the abdomen.
  • Biopsy to extract a tissue sample from the affected area and test it for cancer and various cancer markers.
  • Whole Body FDG PET Scan wherever it is indicated
Breast Cancer Treatment in Delhi

Breast cancer is treatable and chances of survival increase if it is detected in time. Treatment of breast cancer depends on stages (0-IV) which is how far advanced the cancer is and the types of cancer. Breast cancer is 'staged' according to tumor size, involvement of lymph nodes, and whether it has spread outside the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body or not. This information is used to help decide and plan the best treatment.

The presence of biomarkers such as hormone receptors and a receptor called HER2 also helps to determine what type of therapy is given. Treatment of breast cancer includes Surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

  • Surgery : procedure to remove cancerous tissue.
  • Chemotherapy : Using drugs to shrink or destroy cancer cells. The meds may be either orally or injected into your veins.
  • Hormone replacement : Prevents cancer cells from acquiring necessary hormones.
  • Biotherapy : Aids the immune system in fighting cancer cells or controlling bad impacts from other cancer therapies.
  • Radiotherapy : Using X-ray-like high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells.

It is recommended to visit your doctor every 3-4 months for the first two years after finishing treatment, every 6-8 months from years 3-5 and once a year thereafter. You will also have a regular MRI and mammography every year.You also need to monitor side effects associated with the therapy and if found talk to your doctor about it.

Dr. Shona Nag is Pune’s leading Medical Oncologist. Consult her for any breast related problems.

For an appointment call: 9607963440 or email:

Busting myths about breast cancer

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