Every year, an estimate of 1 million women worldwide is diagnosed with breast cancer, not to mention the hundreds and thousand of women who died because of it। This makes breast cancer the most common kind of cancer to affect women. But exactly what is breast cancer? Breast cancer is a tumor caused by the uncontrollable growth of cells of the breast Genes control cell growth. Once genes become abnormal, they can no longer control cell division, thus, cancer cells develop. Gene abnormality may be inherited from a parent, or normal genes can develop an abnormality due to external factors such as toxins and free radicals. These are sometimes called carcinogens.

Tumor can start from the lobules, or the milk-making gland। Or it can begin from the ducts, or the tubes connecting the lobules and nipple, where milk passes through. The most common kinds of breast cancer start from these parts. The less common ones are those formed in the tissues around these parts. Tumor may be confined in the specific part, or it may move or spread to other organs through blood or lymph vessels. If cancer cells have moved to and infected other parts and organs, this is called metastatic breast cancer.

There are many symptoms of breast cancer. Among them are lumps, swelling or dimpling of the skin of the breast, or if the nipple is inverted or facing inwards, or if there are discharges in the nipple. Symptoms can be detected through self-examination, clinical breast exams, and through tests like mammogram and MRI scan. It is advised that women at age 20 should learn how to conduct a monthly personal check. Your doctor can advise you if you need to take these tests. 

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