After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is much more frequent in women.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that gets formed in the cells of the breast.
Significant support for raising awareness and providing funds for research helped to generate advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Survival rates of breast cancer have been increased as compared to the previous years, and the number of deaths related to this disease is steadily decreasing, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new approach to personalized treatment and a better understanding of the disease.
Followings are the Signs and Symptoms of the Breast Cancer:
- A breast thickening that feels slightly different from the surrounding tissues
- Change in size, shape or appearance of a breast
- Changes in the skin of the breast, such as dimples
- The recent inversion of the nipple
- Excoriation, peeling, scab formation or detachment of pigmented skin area surrounding the nipple or skin of the breast
- Redness or depressions in the skin of the breast
Causes of the Breast Cancer:
Doctors know that breast cancer occurs with the abnormal growth of some breast cells. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells and continue to accumulate, and thus form a lump or mass. The cells can spread throughout the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Breast cancer most often begins in milk duct cells (invasive duct carcinoma). Breast cancer can also start in glandular tissue called “lobules” (invasive lobular carcinoma), or in other cells or tissues within the breast.
Researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer. However, it is not clear why some people who do not have risk factors get cancer, while others with risk factors never have it. It is likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of genetic makeup and environment.
A risk factor for breast cancer is anything that makes you more likely to have breast cancer. But having one or even several risk factors for breast cancer does not necessarily mean that you will get breast cancer. Many women who get breast cancer do not have other risk factors than the simple fact of being a woman.
The Main Factors that are Associated with the Breast Cancer:
- Being a woman: Women are much more likely than men to get breast cancer.
- Older age: The risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older.
- Personal history of breast disorders: If you have had a breast biopsy in which a lobular carcinoma was detected in situ or atypical breast hyperplasia, you have a high risk of breast cancer.
- Personal history of breast cancer: If you had cancer in one breast, your risk of getting cancer in the other breast is higher.
- Hereditary genes that increase the risk of getting cancer: Certain genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer can be transmitted from parents to children. The best-known genetic mutations are known as “BRCA1” and “BRCA2”. These genes can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they do not make cancer inevitable.
- Exposure to radiation: If you received radiation treatments in the chest in childhood or in the early stages of adulthood, your chances of getting breast cancer are higher.
- Obesity: Being obese increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Have your first menstruation at a young age: Having your first period before the age of 12 increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Begin menopause at a later age: If in your case menopause began at a later age, you are more likely to get breast cancer.
- Have your first child at a later age: Women who have their first child after age 30 may be at a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- You have never been pregnant: Women who were never pregnant have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who had one or more pregnancies.
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy: Women who take hormone therapy medications that combine estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause are at increased risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer decreases when women stop taking these medications.
- Drinking alcohol: The consumption of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
Prevention of the Breast Cancer
Making changes in your daily life can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Try the followings:
- Consult your doctor about breast cancer screening: Talk to your doctor about when to start breast cancer screenings and tests, such as breast exams and mammograms.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening tests. Together you can decide which breast cancer screening strategies are best for you.
- Familiarize yourself with your breasts through self-examination to become aware of breast cancer: If you notice any changes, lumps or other unusual signs in your breasts, speak immediately with your doctor.
Being aware of breast cancer cannot prevent this disease, but it can help you to better understand the normal changes that your breast goes through, as well as to identify unusual signs and symptoms.
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation: Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day if you choose to drink.
- Exercise most days of the week: Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercises most days of the week. If you have not done much physical activity lately, ask your doctor if you can exercise and start slowly.
- Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy: Combined hormone therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.
Some women, who have breast cancer, experience some signs and symptoms during menopause and, for these women, it may be acceptable to assume the highest risk of breast cancer in order to alleviate the signs and symptoms of menopause.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest possible dose of hormone therapy for the shortest possible period.
- Maintain a healthy weight If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain it: If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to achieve it. Reduce the number of calories you consume daily and slowly increase the amount of physical activity.
- Choose a healthy diet: Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and a mix of nuts may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on foods of vegetable origin, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, instead of butter, and fish instead of red meat.
- Preventive drugs (chemoprophylaxis): Estrogen-inhibiting medications, such as selective modulators of estrogen receptors and aromatase inhibitors, reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who are at high risk of contracting the disease.These medications carry a risk of causing side effects, so doctors reserve them for women with a very high risk of breast cancer. You must talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of the medications.
- Preventive surgery: Women with a very high risk of having breast cancer may opt for the surgical removal of their healthy breasts (prophylactic mastectomy). Also, removing your healthy ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy) to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.