Everything You Need to Know About Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease that causes malignant cells to proliferate in breast tissue. In fact, breast cancer occurs when breast tissue cells grow and proliferate uncontrollably. Cell division outside of control leads to the formation of new tissues or masses known as tumors.

Signs of breast cancer in women (and to a lesser extent in men) include the sensation of a new lump in the breast. However, signs of breast cancer may also include bloody discharge from the nipple, nipple retraction, and abnormal breast enlargement.

The masses formed in breast tissue can be either benign or malignant. The precise diagnosis of new masses is the responsibility of a specialist physician. According to Dr. Farhad Mosazadeh, ultrasound, mammography, and breast biopsy are among the most important methods used to accurately diagnose breast cancer. However, individuals may also require advanced genomic tests such as Mammaprint and Blueprint.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer, or breast carcinoma, is a specific type of cancer that mainly affects women. Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in breast tissue leading to the formation of malignant masses. This type of cancer may also occur in men. However, the incidence of breast cancer in women is over a hundred times higher than in men. Thus, gender can be considered a risk factor for breast cancer.

The main cause of tumor formation in breast tissue is the presence of genetic mutations in breast cells. These mutations affect cell function, causing the cell to grow and proliferate uncontrollably. Accumulation of mutated cells forms a tumor. These tumors can be invasive or non-invasive. Invasive tumors are more dangerous than non-invasive tumors.

Breast cancer, like other cancers, can also attack adjacent tissues. In fact, cells from invasive breast tumors can be transported to other parts of the body through the bloodstream after detachment from the tumor. These cells start to grow in new locations and form new masses. In these cases, breast cancer will be of the metastatic breast cancer type.

Benign Breast Mass in Breast Cancer

It is necessary to remember that many breast masses in breast cancer are benign. This means that these tumors are non-cancerous and will remain confined to the breast tissue despite abnormal growth. These masses usually do not require treatment. In fact, the presence of these masses poses no risk to the health and life of individuals.

However, individuals with benign breast masses are more at risk of developing breast cancer than others. However, this is not definitive and only requires extra care. Note that the presence of any type of mass or change in breast tissue should be examined by a breast specialist. This will help in early detection of breast cancer.

How Breast Cancer Develops

Breast cancer typically begins with the formation of a small tumor, a small and localized tumor called a lump. Breast cancer can also manifest as calcifications and then spread through the ducts within the breast to lymph nodes or through the bloodstream to one or more parts of the body. You may have a lump in the left or right breast or both.

Depending on the types of breast cancer, the tumor can grow and spread within the breast tissue. In this case, the breast wall, glands, or its shell may become affected depending on the circumstances. It should be noted that various types of breast cancer have different rates of growth and progression. For example, some types of breast cancer have very slow progression, and their spread to other organs, or even spreading within the breast tissue, will take time.

However, in some types of breast cancer, rapid progression occurs, and even metastasis (spreading to other organs) occurs within a short period. This is a negative factor in breast cancer that severely limits the treatment period and does not allow enough time for chemotherapy to be effective or to slow down the progression of the disease in any way.

Breast cancer appears in breast tissue masses and can involve any of the glands or milk ducts. However, in the classification of breast cancers, we do not distinguish between cancers that involve glands, known as Lobular Carcinoma, or cancers that involve milk ducts, known as Ductal Carcinoma. In any case, any type of breast cancer that starts in breast tissue is known as breast cancer and will still be called breast cancer wherever it spreads in the body. (If breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body and cancer cells spread, it is called metastatic breast cancer or advanced breast cancer.)

To understand breast cancer, identify the normal shape of the breast.

Breasts are an important part of the anatomy of both women and men. Breast tissue health is essential for breastfeeding and sexual pleasure for women. Therefore, breast tissue is more vital for women than for men. As a result, breast cancer can cause significant changes in a woman’s life. Self-examination of the breasts and regular breast cancer screening can help detect abnormal masses early. Familiarity with breast anatomy can be helpful. Below are some details about breast tissues and anatomy.

Breast Anatomy

Various parts exist in the anatomy of the female breast, which are introduced below.

Breast Lobes

The lobes surround the nipple like the spokes of a wheel. Each breast has between 15 to 20 lobes or sections.

Lobules or Glandular Tissue

Smaller sections exist inside the lobes called lobules. The lobules contain small onion-shaped glands responsible for milk production.

Milk Ducts

An important part of breast tissue forms the milk ducts. These small tubes will transfer milk from the glandular tissue or lobules to the nipple.


The brownish area surrounding the nipple is called the areola. Areolar tissue includes glands known as Montgomery glands. These glands secrete lubricating oil that protects the nipple and breast skin during breastfeeding.


The nipple is located at the center of the brownish area known as the areola. The nipple tissue contains approximately 9 milk ducts and nerves.

Breast Blood Vessels

Blood vessels form a significant part of the breast. These vessels are responsible for circulating blood throughout the breasts.

Lymphatic Vessels

The presence of lymphatic vessels is crucial for transporting lymph fluid. These vessels help strengthen the immune system by circulating lymph fluid. In fact, by strengthening the body’s immune system, lymph fluid makes it easier to fight infection. Lymphatic vessels are connected to important glands known as lymph nodes. These glands are mainly located in the chest, under the arms, and other areas of the body.

Breast Nerves

We mentioned earlier that there are abundant nerve endings in the nipples. The presence of nerve endings in the nipples makes them sensitive to touch and stimulation.

How is a normal breast?

Breast tissue is made up of glands, fat, and connective or fibrous tissues. The breast glands, also called lobules, are responsible for producing milk. The presence of fatty tissues in the breasts also determines their shape and size. The glands and fats present in breast tissue are stabilized in their place by connective or fibrous tissues.

Breast tissue varies among different individuals. For this reason, a uniform structure cannot be considered for all women’s breasts. However, mammary glands, fats, and connective tissues are present in the construction of breasts in all women. However, the way they are arranged together and the overall structure of breast tissue will be different among women. Thus, no specific structure can be introduced as a natural breast structure in women.

Changes in breast size or shape

In each menstrual cycle, the size and shape of the breasts can change somewhat. However, usually after the end of the menstrual cycle, the breasts return to their normal state. In cases where this change in size and shape is persistent or more severe, consulting a specialist physician is necessary. In fact, excessive enlargement of the breasts can sometimes indicate the growth of a tumor in breast tissue. In such cases, physical examination and diagnostic imaging will help investigate the cause of the change in breast size.

Risk factors for breast cancer

Multiple factors play a role in the development of breast cancer. Below are some of the most important factors in breast cancer.

Female Gender in Breast Cancer

Although breast cancer can occur in men, women are more at risk of developing this disease. Statistics show that the risk of breast cancer in women is more than 100 times higher than in men.

Genetics and Breast Cancer

Genetics can confidently be considered the primary factor in the development of breast cancer. Generally, individuals with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are more at risk of developing breast cancer than others. Perhaps a family history of breast cancer can be considered one of the signs of genetic mutations for breast cancer.


Although the extent of the effect of obesity on the risk of breast cancer is not clear yet, excessive weight gain can be influential in the incidence of breast cancer. The cause of this may be attributed to excessive estrogen secretion in overweight individuals. It should be noted that excessive obesity can also play a significant role in breast cancer recurrence.

Physical Inactivity and the Likelihood of Breast Cancer

Statistics show that standard exercise and physical activities reduce the risk of breast cancer. This can be related to reducing fat accumulation and normalizing estrogen secretion levels.

Calcium or Alcohol Consumption

According to experimental results, alcohol is one of the effective factors in the incidence of breast cancer. Therefore, to prevent breast cancer, it is better to eliminate alcohol consumption and alcoholic beverages. This issue will be more important, especially for individuals who are more at risk (have other risk factors).

Alternative Hormone Therapy After Menopause

The use of hormone therapy methods after menopause increases estrogen levels in the body. Generally, excessive estrogen secretion is one of the main factors in breast cancer. Therefore, hormone therapy can be considered a stimulating factor for breast cancer.

Ionizing Radiation

Individuals who have undergone chest radiation therapy in the past may develop breast cancer.

Early Menarche

The more menstrual cycles a woman experiences throughout her life, the higher the risk of breast cancer. Thus, early menarche or early menstruation can be considered one of the factors in breast cancer.

Late Childbearing or Nulliparity Throughout Life

During pregnancy, menstrual cycles are eliminated. As a result, the amount of estrogen secreted in the body decreases. Therefore, the risk of breast cancer is lower for individuals who experience pregnancy. The more pregnancies a person has had throughout their life, the lower the risk of breast cancer.

Previous History of Breast Cancer and Family History of Breast Cancer

If you have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, you are more at risk of breast cancer than others. Breast cancer in individuals with a history of this disease can occur as a recurrence of breast cancer or the onset of cancer in the second breast.

If close relatives of an individual have a history of breast cancer, the risk of cancer for that individual also increases.

Watch Out for Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

There are many signs that can indicate breast cancer. Paying attention to the signs of breast cancer will help with early diagnosis of the disease. Some of the most important symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Feeling pain under the armpit or breast that does not change with the menstrual cycle
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Formation of pores and redness on the skin of the breast
  • Development of skin pimples around or on one of the nipples
  • Nipple discharge containing blood
  • Inversion of the nipple inward
  • Changes in the shape and size of the breast
  • Scaling of the nipple or breast skin

Breast Cancer Diagnosis Methods

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in Breast Cancer Diagnosis

This type of imaging uses strong magnets and radio waves. The use of these tools provides clear and accurate images of the internal structures of the breast. The clearer the images, the more accurate the diagnosis of cancerous masses will be.

Usually, in cases where mammography does not provide clear images of breast tissue, the specialist physician will prescribe an MRI for the patient.

PET Scan Imaging in Breast Cancer

PET scan imaging uses special colors. These colors mark the necessary areas of suspicion. To perform a PET scan, the operator injects a special color into the patient’s veins. Eventually, with the help of a scanner, the desired image of the breast tissue will be obtained.

Laboratory Tests for Breast Cancer Diagnosis

In addition to specialized imaging, some laboratory tests also aid in assessing the patient’s condition. These tests are performed by sampling tissue from the breast tumor or obtaining a blood sample.

Advanced Genomic Testing for Breast Cancer

Genomic testing analyzes the activity of a group of related genes. In fact, this test examines the coordination of gene functions with each other to determine the risk of breast cancer.

It is important to note that genomic testing is different from genetic testing. Genetic testing focuses on individual genes, the type, and extent of mutations that have occurred in them.

DX Oncotype Breast Cancer Oncotype

One of the tests performed for the early detection of breast cancer is the DX Oncotype test. This type of breast cancer test is beneficial for breast cancer with estrogen receptor (ER) positivity. Therefore, this test is not applicable to women with estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

Generally, the DX Oncotype test is performed by analyzing selected genes in breast biopsy. This test examines the aggressiveness and risk factors of tumors. Thus, the response to the DX Oncotype test helps the physician determine the need for chemotherapy and radiation therapy after surgery. The cost of the DX Oncotype test is usually covered by insurance.

The result of the DX Oncotype test determines whether individuals with ER-positive breast cancer should start chemotherapy from the early stages of diagnosis or not. If the patient refrains from chemotherapy, the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence in the future will increase. This issue also depends on the diagnosis of the treating physician.

Mamaprint Breast Cancer Test + Blueprint

The Mamaprint test is one of the tests used in the diagnosis of breast cancer. This test helps assess the risk of breast cancer metastasis in the early stages. The test can be performed for both estrogen receptor-positive and negative tumors. Therefore, its application will be broader than the DX Oncotype test.

Usually, the Mamaprint test is performed for patients under 61 years of age who are diagnosed with stage one or two lymph node-negative breast cancer, provided that their tumor size is less than 5 centimeters. In the Mamaprint test, the expression of 70 genes in the tumor will be measured and examined.

Blueprint testing is one of the new tests related to Mamaprint. This test provides a better definition of breast cancer subgroups. The result of the Blueprint test in breast cancer is beneficial for planning the treatment of HER2-positive cancers.

The result of this test determines that the individual should be treated with chemotherapy and the targeted therapy trastuzumab. However, patients may not respond satisfactorily to this treatment plan. In such cases, the physician should choose another treatment plan for the individual.

Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can manifest in different forms and various types, but generally, breast cancer can be categorized into two groups: invasive and non-invasive. While invasive cancer spreads from the ducts or lobules of the breast to other adjacent breast tissues and other parts of the body, non-invasive breast cancer grows slowly and does not spread to neighboring tissues. The most common types of breast cancer include:

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS):

This type of cancer, abbreviated as DCIS, is a non-invasive disease. In this type, cancer cells remain confined to the ducts or milk ducts and do not invade other breast tissues.

Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS):

Abbreviated as LCIS, in this type, cancerous masses only grow and proliferate in the milk-producing lobules. Similar to the previous type, in lobular carcinoma in situ, cancer cells do not invade neighboring tissues.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC):

Invasive ductal carcinoma, also known as IDC, is the most common type of breast cancer. This cancer originates in the milk ducts and then rapidly spreads to its adjacent tissues. After spreading beyond the ducts, it can also spread to other parts of the breast.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma:

This type of cancer initially develops in the lobules or milk-producing glands and then spreads to adjacent tissues.

Other less common types of breast cancer include:

Paget’s Disease of the Breast:

Paget’s disease of the breast originates in the milk ducts concentrated at the nipple and, after growth, also involves the skin and areola (the halo around the nipple).

Phyllodes Tumor:

This type of breast cancer is very rare and originates in the connective tissues of the breast. Most tumors formed in this area are benign, but some may also be cancerous.


This cancer develops in the blood vessels or lymph nodes of the breast.

Depending on the type of breast cancer a person develops, treatment methods also vary. We will discuss the symptoms of each type of breast cancer further.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is one of the rare but aggressive types, accounting for only one to five percent of all breast cancer cases. In this condition, cells block lymph nodes near breast tissue. As a result, fluid remains in the tissues and lymphatic channels. Instead of forming a tumor, inflammatory breast cancer causes inflammation, redness, and a feeling of warmth in the breast. Breasts affected by this cancer appear thick and dimpled, resembling the skin of an orange. The orangish appearance of the breast is a rare symptom of this disease.

Inflammatory breast cancer can be very aggressive and progress rapidly. Therefore, if symptoms of this cancer are observed, one should quickly consult their physician.

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

Triple-negative breast cancer is another rare type of cancer, affecting only 10 to 20 percent of people with breast cancer. To identify a cancer as triple-negative, it must have all three of the following characteristics:

Lack of estrogen receptors: Cancer cells have receptors that absorb the hormone estrogen. If a tumor has estrogen receptors, it can grow more quickly.

Lack of progesterone receptors: Progesterone receptors, if present on the surface of cancer cells, can absorb the hormone progesterone. This hormone, like estrogen, stimulates the growth and proliferation of breast cancer tumors.

Lack of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) on its surface: HER2 is a protein that accelerates the growth of breast cancer.

If a tumor has all the above characteristics, it is recognized as triple-negative breast cancer. This type of breast cancer grows faster than other types. Treatment for this type of cancer is challenging because hormone therapy does not control tumor growth in this type of cancer.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is another name for stage four breast cancer. This type of cancer, in advanced stages, may spread to other parts of the body such as bones and lungs if not promptly addressed. In this advanced stage of breast cancer, an oncologist designs a comprehensive treatment plan aimed at controlling the growth and proliferation of tumors to other parts of the body.

Breast Cancer in Men

Although breast cancer in men is very rare, the possibility of its occurrence is not zero. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer in men occurs at a rate of 100 times less than in women. Additionally, this cancer occurs less frequently in Black men compared to White men. Breast cancer in men should be taken as seriously as in women. This cancer also creates symptoms similar to breast cancer in women.

What is the Role of Breast Masses in Different Types of Breast Cancer?

Perhaps the first main sign of breast cancer is the appearance of a new lump in breast tissue. These lumps are detected in breast self-examination or breast cancer screening by a physician. The cause of breast masses varies.

However, our preference is that cancer be detected through screening or mammography before the appearance of a lump. Mammography can detect cancerous lesions two years before the formation of a tumor.

Different stages of life bring about significant changes in women’s breast tissue. For example, during breastfeeding, breasts undergo physical and tissue changes. Also, their sensitivity will change during this period. Breast sensitivity will also occur during the menstrual cycle.

Due to the presence of multiple changes in the body, each part of breast tissue reacts to chemical changes and multiple stimuli. These changes affect breast sensitivity and structure. One of the most important consequences of these changes is the growth of masses in the breast.

What are the Types of Breast Masses?

Breast masses can include the following:

  • Cysts
  • Lipomas
  • Fat necrosis
  • Fibroadenomas
  • Abscesses, which may be caused by infection
  • Papillomas inside the ducts
  • Breast cancer
  • Gynecomastia in men

Not all of these masses are cancerous. Breast masses associated with cancer have specific signs and symptoms. For example, in various types of breast cancer, thickening of the breast skin or bloody discharge from the nipple may be signs of cancerous masses. However, more specialized tests are needed to diagnose breast cancer.

Why Was a Mass Formed in Your Breast?

There are many reasons for the formation of a mass in breast tissue, one of which is breast cancer (breast cancer). Most masses formed in the breast are due to problems such as fibrocystic breasts and breast cysts. Fibrocystic breasts cause non-cancerous changes in the breast, which can lead to protrusions and pain. Cysts are also small, fluid-filled masses.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Some of the initial signs, symptoms of breast cancer, and warning signs of breast cancer (breast cancer) are:

  • Presence of a lump in the breast or underarm
  • Thickening of the skin or partial swelling of the breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of the breast skin
  • Redness or scaling of the nipple
  • Pain or indentation of the nipple
  • Bleeding or any other fluid discharge except milk from the nipple
  • Any changes in the size or shape of the breasts, especially unilateral
  • Breast pain
  • Itching or irritation of the breast
  • Change in breast color
  • Redness or dimpling of the breast skin (something like citrus peel skin)

Of course, it should not be forgotten that many of these conditions may be due to another problem, and if observed, you should only consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The characteristics of breast cancer masses may be similar to benign breast masses, and after a thorough examination, the type of mass is determined.

The main cause of breast cancer in women has not yet been properly identified, but the following factors may increase your risk of breast cancer:

There are many causes for the formation of masses in breast tissue, including breast cancer (breast cancer). Most breast masses are formed due to problems such as fibrocystic breast disease and breast cysts. Fibrocystic changes cause non-cancerous changes in the breast that can lead to protrusion and pain. Cysts are also small, fluid-filled masses.

  • Race
  • Family history
  • Mutations in various genes such as BRCA1

Triple-negative breast cancer symptoms

Triple-negative breast cancer symptoms will be similar to those mentioned for various types of breast cancer. However, in specific cases where triple-negative breast cancer is metastatic, the following symptoms will also be common:

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Numbness and weakness in various parts of the body
  • Persistent pain in joints, bones, and back
  • Severe shortness of breath or respiratory disorders
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes or jaundice of the skin
  • Abdominal pain, sensitivity, and bloating
  • Double vision, blurred vision, and visual problems
  • Seizures and balance problems
  • Persistent and severe headaches
  • Feeling dizzy

Symptoms of Papillary Carcinoma Breast Cancer

Symptoms of papillary breast cancer are also similar to the signs of various types of breast cancer. Usually, this type of cancer also begins with the formation of a mass in breast tissue. Also, the presence of bloody discharge from the nipple is one of the main signs of papillary carcinoma breast cancer. Other symptoms of papillary carcinoma include:

  • Feeling pain in the breast or chest
  • Changes in breast size or shape
  • Sharp pain in the nipple and surrounding area
  • Presence of swelling in breast tissue
  • Inverted nipples
  • Paying attention to any of these signs can help diagnose papillary carcinoma early.

Ductal cancer symptoms

Ductal cancer, which is one of the most common types of breast cancer (breast cancer), does not create any specific signs. Rarely does a woman with this condition notice a lump in the breast or discharge from it. However, using mammography can quickly diagnose this condition.

Lobular cancer symptoms

Lobular cancer is another type of breast cancer (breast cancer) that affects a large portion of patients. Unlike the previous case, this disease cannot even be diagnosed with mammography due to the lack of specific symptoms. Most cases of this type of cancer are diagnosed when the doctor performs a breast biopsy for other reasons.

Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms

Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) rarely causes the formation of breast masses and may not be visible on mammography. Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer (breast cancer) include:

  • Red, swollen, and sensitive breast to touch, also itching.
  • The surface of the breast may appear pitted, resembling orange peel skin (known as peau d’orange).
  • Feeling heaviness, burning, or pain in one breast
  • One breast may be larger than the other and easily identifiable.
  • Inverted nipples. (Meaning they are retracted inward.)
  • Lumps that have developed at the site of arm and torso attachment.

This type of breast cancer mostly does not cause a specific mass inside the breast tissue, and it cannot be easily diagnosed through self-examination or even mammography. However, due to significant changes in breast skin, timely referral and after using ultrasound, the doctor can quickly confirm or rule out the presence of the disease.

The symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer quickly develop and spread. In fact, the disease can progress rapidly. Any sudden changes in breast tissue or appearance should be reported to the doctor immediately.

For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, redness, swelling, itching, and pain are often signs of breast infection, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and notice these symptoms in yourself, your doctor should conduct the necessary tests to determine the possibility of inflammatory breast cancer.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms

Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body where cancer has spread and the stage of the disease. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not have any symptoms.

However, some symptoms may include:

  • If the chest wall is affected by cancer, you may feel pain in the surrounding areas of the breast or notice discharge from the nipple.
  • If bones are affected by cancer, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation, or decreased alertness due to increased calcium levels in the blood.
  • If tumors develop in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain, or severe fatigue.
  • If cancer cells spread to the liver, symptoms may include nausea, severe fatigue, abdominal swelling, swelling of the legs and hands due to fluid retention, and jaundice or itchy skin.
  • If breast cancer cells spread to the brain or spinal cord and create tumors, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headaches, blurred or double vision, speech difficulties, movement problems, or seizures.

Different Stages of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is classified into stages or different levels based on the size of the tumor and the extent of its spread. Cancers that have spread to nearby breast tissues and other parts of the body are classified in higher stages compared to local cancers and small breast masses. To understand the stage of breast cancer, doctors need to know the following information:

Is the cancer invasive or non-invasive?

How large is the tumor?

Are lymph nodes also involved?

Has the cancer spread to nearby tissues and organs or not?

Breast cancer is categorized into five stages:

Stage 0 Breast Cancer

Stage 0 breast cancer is also known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Cancer cells in this type of cancer remain limited to the milk ducts and do not spread to surrounding tissues.

Stage 1 Breast Cancer

Stage 1A: The primary tumor is less than two centimeters in diameter, and lymph nodes are not involved.

Stage 1B: In this stage, cancer is observed in nearby lymph nodes, but no tumor is seen in breast tissue, or its size is less than two centimeters.

Stage 2 Breast Cancer

Stage 2A: The tumor is less than two centimeters, and it has spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes. Or the tumor is between two to five centimeters, but it hasn’t spread to lymph nodes.

Stage 2B: The tumor is between two to five centimeters and has spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes, or it is larger than five centimeters but not observed in lymph nodes.

Stage 3 Breast Cancer

Stage 3A: Cancer has spread to four to nine lymph nodes under the arm or has grown inside the breast lymph nodes. The size of the primary tumor can vary. Sometimes tumors are larger than five centimeters, and cancer has spread to one to three lymph nodes under the arm.

Stage 3B: The tumor has reached the chest wall or skin and may involve more than nine lymph nodes.

Stage 3C: Cancer has spread to ten or more lymph nodes, or lymph nodes near the collarbone or inside the breast.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer

In stage 4 breast cancer, tumors can be any size, and cancer cells have spread throughout lymph nodes near and far, as well as to other organs in the body. Through diagnostic tests like imaging techniques and breast biopsy, doctors can determine the type of breast cancer and its progressive stages.

Methods of Breast Cancer Diagnosis

For understanding whether symptoms developed in the breast are due to cancer or a benign condition, a doctor may perform a wide range of different diagnostic examinations and tests, ranging from physical breast examination to biopsy. Multiple tests are usually performed to make a definitive diagnosis of cancer. A photo of cancerous masses is shown in the above image. It is recommended to thoroughly study the comprehensive article on breast cancer diagnosis methods. In brief, these methods include:


This method is the most common way of imaging and observing potential changes in breast tissue using low-dose X-rays. Performing mammography annually for women over forty is essential and can significantly prevent the progression of breast cancer.

Breast Ultrasound:

Breast ultrasound is one of the diagnostic methods for breast cancer and is usually used to differentiate non-cancerous masses such as cysts from cancerous masses.

Breast Biopsy:

If the results of breast tissue imaging by mammography and ultrasound indicate suspicious masses, the final step in diagnosing breast cancer definitively is to perform a breast biopsy or tissue sampling. In biopsy, a portion of the suspicious mass along with surrounding tissue is taken using a needle and sent to the pathology laboratory for further testing.

Breast Cancer Treatment Methods

Breast cancer is treated with various methods depending on the type and extent of spread, and in response to the question of whether breast cancer can be treated, it should be noted that typically, a single treatment method alone is not used to address it. Treatment methods for this disease are generally divided into the following categories:


Surgery is usually the frontline approach in combating breast cancer, which has various types, with the common goal of removing cancerous tissue through surgery. In lumpectomy, a portion of the breast tissue and cancerous tumor are removed, aiming to preserve the main breast tissue and appearance. This is while in mastectomy surgery, the entire breast tissue is removed. However, new methods have also emerged to preserve the skin and nipple of the breast as much as possible.


Chemotherapy involves prescribing drugs to weaken and eliminate cancer cells in the breast. These drugs can be administered orally or injected intravenously.

Hormone Therapy:

In this method, access of cancer cells to hormones necessary for growth is blocked.

Biological Therapies:

This type of treatment assists the body’s immune system in fighting cancer or side effects resulting from other treatment methods.

Radiation Therapy:

In this type of treatment, powerful rays, such as X-rays, are used to destroy cancer cells.

Like most other cancers, in breast cancer treatment, a multidisciplinary team consisting of various specialties works hand in hand to eradicate the disease. This team may include oncologists, general surgeons, plastic surgeons, and several other specialists.


In summary, although the name cancer might be very frightening, one should not panic when facing breast cancer symptoms. Remember that many diseases have similar symptoms. However, to alleviate any doubts and concerns, it is necessary to consult a specialist doctor to accurately assess your condition. It is essential to remind you that, like all diseases, cancer also has a much simpler treatment in its early stages of formation and before spreading. Dr. Farhad Mousazadeh, the best breast cancer surgeon in Tehran with years of experience in treating various types of breast cancer, is ready to provide consultation to dear patients.

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