Breast Cancer


When abnormal cells start to proliferate in the breast tissue it can lead to breast cancer. Breast cancer can occur in one or both breasts and, although it is most common in women, more and more men are also developing breast cancer. 

The cancerous cells in the breast typically form a tumour that can be felt or seen on a sonar or mammogram as a lump. Breast cancer is not always localized in the breast tissue, but it can spread to other parts of the body too.

There are several types of breast cancer, and the most common include:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive breast cancer
  • Triple-negative breast cancer

Each of these will have a different treatment plan.

With ductal carcinomas, the cancer cells grow inside the milk ducts in the breast. If detected early, it is less likely to spread and can be treated very effectively.

Invasive breast cancer has moved from its original source, which could be the milk duct or elsewhere, and has spread into the surrounding breast tissue as well as other areas of the body.

Triple-negative breast cancer is an invasive cancer with fewer treatment options because the cancer cells are missing the three proteins that are typically present in breast cancers. These proteins are estrogen and progesterone which are hormone sensitive, and HER2, which gets produced in high quantities by other types of breast cancers.

Once the type of cancer has been identified your doctor will be able to advise on the best form of treatment.

Regular breast checks are very important. These include:

  • Self-examination – check for lumps, changes in breast texture and colour, nipple discharge
  • Mammograms
  • Ultrasound

A mammogram is a breast x-ray and is a routine form of breast examination. Breast ultrasounds can be done alongside a mammogram or in isolation depending on how dense the breast tissue is.

Should any abnormalities be detected in either of these screening tests, your doctor may refer you for other scans such as an MRI, PET, or CT scan.

Breast lumps are not always cancerous. They can be due to cysts or fibrous lumps. If a cyst is suspected, the doctor may suggest a breast biopsy to analyse the contents of the tissue. The most important thing is to have regular check-ups and not to ignore any unusual symptoms.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 27 October 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am