Genetic Breast Cancer : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment with New Drug Therapy


What is meant by Breast Cancer? Who gets Breast Cancer Mostly?

Breast cancer is a cancerous growth deep in the breast tissue. It is most common in women. Less frequently it is also seen in about 1% of cancers occurring in men. Breast cancer is the major cause of death of cancer in women. Because of the advanced technology to diagnose and treat breast cancers the mortality rate appears to have been reduced slightly.

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

What are the causes of breast cancer?

  • Some times breast cancer runs in some families due to inheritance of a gene BRCA1 and BRCA2 which are predisposing genes for development of breast cancer. Women having these genes are at higher risk for getting breast cancer. Those who have a close relatives affected with breast cancer are at higher risk for inheriting the gene responsible for the cancer.
  • Breast cancer is more age related and seen in older women. It is seen in women who have started their periods early in life < 11 years age and attained late menopause of over 55 years. These women are at a higher risk than the opposite group of women.
  • Obese and fatty women are at higher risk for developing breast cancer since high body fat increases the estrogen levels in the body.
  • Post menopausal women who are under hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of more than 10 years are at a greater risk for developing the breast cancer.
  • A women had breast cancer on one breast is likely to get on the other side of the breast.
  • Exposure to radiation may also cause breast cancer.
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Symptoms of breast cancer

  • Presence of a lump deep in the breast tissue usually painless is a sign of cancer. But all the lumps are not cancerous. Therefore a thorough investigation is required if a lump is seen in the breast.
  • Discharges from the nipple, inversion of the nipple, changes in the structure of the skin over the lump like wrinkling of the skin are some of the signs of the breast cancer.
  • All the lumps seen in the breast are not cancerous. Similarly changes in the nipple and skin are also may not be due to cancer always. Therefore seek medical help to eliminate the cancer.
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How breast cancers are diagnosed?

  • By physical examination of the breast
  • Mammography studies: Mammogram is the study of the breasts with the help of x ray photographs. It is used to diagnose, and evaluate the breast cancer. It is almost accurate and if regularly taken by women helps to detect the breast cancers at an early stage. During the procedure the breast is slightly compressed between two plates which are connected to x ray camera. Clear pictures are taken in the underlying tissue for diagnosing the lump or the tissue. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes.
  • Biopsy of the lump: The tissue from the lump is extracted with the help of a needle and the tissue is histo pathologically evaluated for the presence of cancer cells.
  • Blood tests and x ray of the chest to study the spread of the cancer in other areas like liver and lungs will also be made.
  • Bone scan sometimes is necessary to detect the spread of the cancer to the bones.
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Treatment options available:

English: photo of SAVI breast brachytherapy device

English: photo of SAVI breast brachytherapy device (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It is the best choice of treatment in most of the cases to completely remove the cancerous tissue from the breast and surrounding areas.


By chemotherapy the cancer cells are destroyed at any stage and very useful in the treatment of cancers.

Radiation therapy:

Radiation therapy causes damage to the DNA of the cancer cells and prevents its further growth. It keeps the healthy cells unharmed.

Hormonal therapy:

The breast cancer cells are estrogenic dependent. Hormonal therapy aims to suppress the estrogen and deprives the cells thereby killing them. Drugs commonly used are Tomoxiphen and Reloxiphen.

Latest treatment available for genetic breast cancer:

A new drug ‘OLAPARIB’ is found to be very effective on BRCA related breast cancers according to research made by the scientists of Breast Cancer Research Unit of Kings College London. The scientists reported that if further tests are proved successful the drug can be used safely to treat and prevent BRCA related breast cancers and becomes a good hope for the patients suffering with breast cancer.

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