Breast cancer is a disorder in which the breast cells proliferate uncontrollably. There are various types of breast cancer. Which cells in the breast develop into cancer determines the type of breast cancer. But what was breast cancer called before?
Breast cancer was once known as Nun’s sickness because of its higher occurrence among nuns, who were predisposed to it due to their celibacy lifestyle. A link between reproductive history and cancer risk was not established for roughly 250 years after it was linked to nuns.
Early Discovery of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer has been known to humans for a long time. The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, for example, describes breast cancer cases. This medicinal treatise was written between 3,000 and 2,500 BCE.
Votive sacrifices in the shape of a breast were made to the god of medicine in ancient Greece. In the early 400s BCE, Hippocrates outlined the phases of breast cancer.
Doctors experimented with surgical incisions to eradicate malignancies in the first century. They also believed that breast cancer was linked to the cessation of menstruation. This approach could explain why cancer is associated with older age.
Medical advancement was interwoven with new religious ideas from the Middle Ages. Christians considered surgery to be brutal and preferred faith healing. Meanwhile, Islamic doctors studied Greek medical books to understand breast cancer better.
During the Renaissance, doctors explored the human body, which led to a renaissance of surgery. The Scottish father of investigative surgery, John Hunter, discovered lymph as a source of breast cancer. Lymph is a fluid that transports white blood cells throughout the body.
Surgeons also conducted lumpectomies, but there was no anesthetic at the time. To be successful, surgeons have to be quick and precise. (Source: Healthline)
What are the Different Forms of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is categorized into several types, including:
- Infiltrating (invasive) ductal carcinoma. After breaking through the duct wall, this cancer spreads to adjacent breast tissue and begins in your breast milk ducts. This is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for more than 80% of all cases.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ. Also known as Stage 0 breast cancer, some consider it precancerous since the cells have not moved beyond your milk ducts. This ailment is easily treated. However, immediate treatment is required to keep cancer from becoming aggressive and spreading to other tissues.
- Infiltrating (invasive) lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins in your breast lobules (where breast milk is produced) and has spread to adjacent breast tissue. It is responsible for 10% to 15% of all breast cancers.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ. This is a precancerous condition in which abnormal cells are seen in your breast’s lobules. Although it is not genuine cancer, this marker can suggest the possibility of breast cancer later in life. Women with lobular carcinoma in situ should get clinical breast exams and mammography frequently.
- Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the most challenging breast cancers to treat, accounting for around 15% of all cases. It is referred to as triple negative because it lacks three indicators linked with other kinds of breast cancer. This complicates prognosis and treatment.
- Inflammatory breast cancer. This rare and aggressive cancer appears to be a disease. Inflammatory breast cancer is characterized by redness, swelling, pitting, and dimpling of the breast skin. It is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the skin’s lymph veins.
- Paget’s disease of the breast. This cancer attacks the nipple and areola skin.
(Source: Cleveland and Clinic)