One of the dangerous diseases that quite often attacks the female breast glands is breast cancer. Therefore, routine breast gland examination is important to detect breast cancer early.
Although both have breast glands, the anatomy and function of the breast glands in women and men are different. In women, this gland begins to develop at puberty because of the increase in the hormone estrogen. After that, a woman's breasts will experience structural changes with age. While in men, the breast glands do not change much from children to adults.
Anatomy of the Breast Gland
In women, the mammary glands are composed of fatty tissue, a group of lobules, and ducts. Lobules are glands that produce milk. The milk that is produced will flow through the breast milk channel to the nipple. Male breast glands also have fatty tissue and ducts, but no lobules.
After giving birth, a woman's body releases the hormone prolactin, which stimulates milk production. This prolactin hormone will be stimulated naturally when a woman is breastfeeding or pumping breast milk.
When no longer breastfeeding, this channel will be covered by keratin to prevent the entry of infection-causing bacteria until breastfeeding occurs again in the next pregnancy and childbirth. After reaching menopause, the breast glands shrink and lose their ability to produce milk.
Breast Gland and Breast Cancer
One of the most common diseases that attack the mammary glands is breast cancer.
Based on the part, breast cancer is divided into two types, namely: ductal carcinoma or cancer that attacks the milk ducts (ducts) and lobular carcinoma, namely cancer that grows in the mammary glands (lobules).
Based on the spread, breast cancer can be in situ or invasive. Called in situ if the cancer cells remain in the area of origin of the cancer, whereas it is said to be invasive when the cancer cells have spread to other areas.
Among all these types, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common type and is the earliest form of breast cancer that is usually discovered during routine breast exams or breast screening.Carcinoma in situ This means that abnormal cell growth only occurs on the surface layer and has not spread to any tissues.
DCIS is relatively harmless to life if treated early, but if left untreated it can become invasive. DCIS often does not cause any symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose early.
However, some people with DCIS sometimes experience symptoms such as bleeding or discharge from the nipple or the appearance of a lump in the breast. DCIS is also known as stage 0 breast cancer. Generally, women who receive treatment at this stage can recover from the cancer.
Steps for Handling Breast Cancer
Surgery and radiation may be the treatment of choice at this stage. Surgical removal of the mammary glands or mastectomy will be recommended, especially in patients with the following conditions:
- Family history of breast cancer.
- It is not possible to undergo radiation therapy.
- Having genetic factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer.
- DCIS occurs in several areas or parts of the breast.
Breast Cancer Early Detection
Early detection and treatment can increase the chances of patients recovering from breast cancer. Early detection can be done in the simplest way, namely breast self-examination or BSE.
If you feel a lump or other symptoms in the breast, including breast skin, immediately consult a doctor. However, before the appearance of symptoms, you are advised to have regular screening at the hospital, especially if you are 45 years old or older.
While undergoing routine screening, the doctor will perform a physical examination of your breasts and some of the following investigations:
Mammography is an examination of the breast using X-rays. This examination can detect abnormalities in the breast glands, either in the form of tumors, cysts, calcium buildup (calcification), or even cancer.
The disadvantages of this examination are the risk of radiation exposure and the pain caused during the examination. This is because the breast must be pressed using an examination device while undergoing mammography. .
Unfortunately, mammography is not always accurate, especially when performed on young women. The reason, because the structure of breast tissue in young women tend to be denser, so a higher risk of being misinterpreted. In addition, not all types of breast cancer can be detected through mammography.
Breast ultrasound examinations are generally safer and more comfortable than mammography. This is because this examination does not use radiation exposure and does not cause pain during the examination.
Its detection ability is more or less the same as mammography, depending on the state of the structure of the breast tissue being examined. This examination can also be used as a complement to mammography in the detection of breast cancer.
The two methods are not to replace each other, but rather to complement each other. To ensure the health of your breasts, make regular consultations with your doctor on a regular basis.
The doctor will determine what type of examination you need to undergo and determine the treatment steps if there are signs of a tumor or breast cancer.