What is breast cancer?


Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that develops in the breast. There are different types of breast cancer depending on the cells from which they develop.The most frequent breast cancers (95%) are adenocarcinomas, ie which develop from the epithelial cells (= carcinoma) of the mammary gland (= adeno).

types of breast cancer:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
    This type of tumor affects the milk ducts of the breast, that is to say the ducts that transport milk from the mammary glands to the nipple. This type of cancer is said to be early because it is limited to the breast when diagnosed.
  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (ICC)
    Like DCIS, this type of tumor reaches the milk ducts but it is more invasive, that is to say, it will spread and spread to the breast tissue. It is the most common breast cancer.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
    Abnormal cells will grow in the mammary glands that produce milk in the breast. It is not a tumor, but this type of alteration increases the risk of developing cancer later.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)
    This type of cancer is rarer, it begins in the mammary glands and then spreads to other breast tissues.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
    It is a rare form of breast cancer. Symptoms are usually a red, swollen breast. This type of cancer is rather aggressive and seems to grow quite quickly, but it is still rare.

Different risk factors identified:

The main known risk factors for breast cancer are:

  • age
  • Genetic predisposition
  • A personal history of breast disease
  • A personal history of high-dose medical chest irradiation.
  • Other risk factors are suspected depending on endogenous hormonal exposure (age at puberty, number of children, age at first pregnancy, breastfeeding, overweight/obesity and exogenous (hormone treatment for menopause).
  • More and more studies incriminate the consumption of alcohol and smoking

Symptoms of breast cancer:

Breast cancers cause few symptoms and clinical signs during the early stages of their development. When they are more advanced, they may be responsible for:

  • lump, mass or induration (abnormal hardening) in the breast or armpit (swollen and hard axillary lymph nodes);
  • area of deformation, ulceration, redness or retraction of the skin in the breast;
  • abnormal discharge from the nipple.
    Thanks to organized screening and gynecological follow-up, the diagnosis is often made before the appearance of these clinical signs in the patient. In any case, in case of doubt, you should consult your doctor or a gynecologist who will examine the anomaly and, if necessary, prescribe additional medical examinations. Indeed, these different signs are not specific to breast cancer and can be linked to many other breast pathologies.

Organized breast cancer screening for women between 50 and 74 years old:

While breast cancer can occur at any age, it most commonly affects women after menopause. It is with this in mind that the health authorities in france are offering all women between the ages of 50 and 74, with no symptoms, no family history of breast and ovarian cancer, or genetic mutation, to be screened. every 2 years.

How is organized breast cancer screening carried out?

From the age of 50, women are invited by the CPAM to go for breast cancer screening in the authorized referral centers in their region. An invitation is sent to them every 2 years, until the age of 74.

Organized breast cancer screening includes two examinations:

  • Palpation of the breasts, to detect any abnormalities.
  • Mammography, a real x-ray of the breasts. In the context of organized screening, the mammogram benefits from a double reading, by two radiologists, for even more security.

From the age of 25: “individual” clinical screening for breast cancer

From the age of 25, a clinical examination (palpation) is recommended once a year. This examination can be carried out by your gynecologist, your general practitioner or a midwife.
In case of symptoms, nodule, pain, discharge, erythema (redness), a breast assessment will be indicated. It includes an ultrasound, more or less supplemented by a mammogram, if deemed necessary by the radiologist.