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Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, 1 in every 8 women tends to develop breast cancer. There are numerous types of breast cancer that typically differ in their proficiency of spreading to other tissues of your body.
However, the advancement in screening and treatment have increased the survival rates intensely since 1989. In the United States, there are about 3.1 million breast cancer survivors. And the chance of women dying from breast cancer is about 2.7 percent or one in 37. Symptoms awareness and the need for the screening are crucial ways of reducing the risk.
Besides breast cancer affecting women, it can also affect men. But today, we will be focusing on breast cancer in women.
What is Breast Cancer?
After puberty, a woman’s breast comprises connective tissue, fat, and thousands of lobules, tiny glands that produce milk for breastfeeding. In cancer, the cells in your body tend to multiply hysterically, causing excessive cell growth. Breast cancer can be Ductal Carcinoma (is the most common type and usually starts in the milk duct) or Lobular Carcinoma (begins in the lobules).
Invasive breast cancer happens when the cancer cells break out from inside ducts or lobules and attack the nearby tissue hence increasing the chance of spreading to other body parts. Non-invasive cancer occurs when the cancer is still inside its original place and hasn’t broken out.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Knowing how your breasts usually look and feel is an essential part of breast health. Finding breast cancer as early as possible provides you a better opportunity for successful treatment. Screening tests can really help to detect breast cancer in its early stages, even before any symptoms appear.
- A lump in the breast – is the most common symptom
- Inverted nipple
- Breast pain or sore nipple
- Bloody nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit or neck
- Change in the shape or size of the breast or nipple
- Pitting or redness of the skin of your breast, like the skin of an orange
- Peeling, scaling, or flaking of the skin on the nipple or breast
Sometimes the breast cancer might spread to the lymph nodes just under the arm, or around the collarbone, and cause the swelling or lump there, even before the original tumor in your breast is large enough to feel it. It is recommended for the swollen lymph nodes to be checked by a healthcare professional.
Breast Cancer Treatment
Treatment will depend on the type of breast cancer, stage of the disease, sensitivity to hormones, and your age, overall health, and preferences.
The main options are radiation therapy, surgery, biological therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.
Factors that may affect your choice of treatment include the stage of cancer, other medical conditions, and your preference.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Some factors can increase breast cancer risks, but there isn’t sufficient evidence to be certain:
As you get older, the risk of breast cancer tends to go up. Most breast cancers are found in women age 55 and older.
2.) Certain Inherited Genes
If a close relative of your parent has had or has breast cancer, the risk is very high. The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is the inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 gene. However, in normal cells, these genes promote making proteins that repair the damaged DNA. But if you have inherited the mutated copy of either of the gene from a close relative, then you have a higher risk of breast cancer.
3.) Previous History of Breast Cancer
If you have had breast cancer before, then it is more likely to have it again. Note that, most women (around 8 out of 10) who gets breast cancer, usually don’t have the family history of the disease.
Other risk factors include:
- Having dense breast tissue
- Your race and ethnicity
- Having radiation to your chest
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES)
- Alcohol consumption
- Starting menstruation early
- Hormone treatment
Breast Cancer Prevention
There is still no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things you can do which tend to lower the risk of changing the risk factors which are under your control.
How to Reduce the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer
- Be physically active
- Avoiding excess consumption of alcohol
- Getting or following a healthy diet with plenty of fresh veggies and fruits
- Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI)
For Women At Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
- Medicines to lower breast cancer risk
- More frequent breast cancer screenings
- Preventive surgery for women with very high breast cancer risk
- Perform Self Breast Exams Regularly
Resources Related to Breast Cancer Awareness
National Breast Cancer Foundation INC – http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month
Susan G. Komen – https://ww5.komen.org/
Ladies, our boobs are precious. Taking care of them means taking care of yourself.
Results may vary. Information and statements made are for general purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Her Own Health does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Her Own Health are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.