BY: DAVID KHAWAND
Breast cancer is a phenomenon in which breast cells grow uncontrollably (CDC). In a normal cell, the cell cycle is regulated by signaling pathways that determine whether it will grow, replicate its DNA, or divide. Throughout the cycle, checkpoints allow the cell to decide whether it should proceed to the next step, fix any errors, or commit cell death. In cancer cells, the whole checkpoint system is neglected, permitting the cell to divide uncontrollably. This is due to mutations in the DNA of healthy breast cells that allow them to evade the cell cycle checkpoints and apoptosis (cell death).
One in eight women in the U.S. will be affected by this disease in her lifetime. In 2021, 281,550 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in women and 2,650 new cases in men. 43,600 women are projected to die from this disease (U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics). Hundreds of organizations are working to find a cure for this illness.
Cancer cell’s rate of growth is measured by a TNM scale. This progression is broken up into four stages. The first through third stage signifies that cancer is present. The greater the stage, the larger the tumor becomes and the more it has spread into nearby tissue. In the fourth and final stage, metastasis occurs (NIH). Metastasis is the process in which cancer spreads from its original primary site of growth. When this happens, doctors can do very little to reverse the cancer progression and the patient has a very low chance of survival.
Invasive breast cancer is the most frequent type of breast cancer. This particular cancer originates in the milk ducts and can spread into the surrounding breast tissue. The symptoms that may be associated with this kind of malignancy include lumps in the breast or underarm area, rashes or redness of the breast, swelling, and nipple pain.
The two main categories of invasive breast cancer include invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). IDC is more common than ILC, constituting about 8 in 10 invasive breast cancer cases (American Cancer Society). Invasive ductal carcinoma begins in the milk duct cell lining in the breast. Then, it breaks through the milk duct wall, growing around the breast tissues and may metastasize through the bloodstream. Invasive lobular carcinoma impacts 1 in 10 invasive breast cancer patients (American Cancer Society). ILC starts in the milk-producing glands and can metastasize similarly to IDC. In addition, ILC is harder to detect on a physical examination and imaging.
In this article review, the topic of breast cancer has been discussed. The two types mentioned were invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. In a typical process of cancer development, it follows four steps on the TNM scale. Metastasis is the process of cancer cells leaving its original site and traveling throughout the body via the bloodstream. Once this occurs, very few treatments are available to control the spread.
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