Breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women after skin cancer in the United States. Awareness about breast cancer has added up to the advancements in treatment methods so as to decline death rates.
Types of Breast Cancer
Following are the types of known breast cancers.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
- Male breast cancer
- Paget’s disease of the breast
- Recurrent breast cancer
What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
There are symptoms of breast cancer that should not be ignored to have early diagnosis and treatment.
Changes in the size or shape of the breast may indicate a problem. Also, changes in the breast such as hardening of the part forming a lump that seems different from the surrounding tissue. The skin covering the breast may also become different in appearance and should not be ignored.
Nipple changes can be alarming too as an inverted nipple is not normal. Scaling or peeling of the areola is also not normal and should be taken into consideration.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
The breast cells begin to grow abnormally when cancer is usually suspected by doctors. The cell division is faster than any other normal process which accumulates to form lumps. Breast cancer usually develops first in the milk-producing ducts and that is where lumps may start forming.
The causes of breast cancer can range from hormonal to environmental and lifestyle factors. Although the exact reason still remains unknown, it has been seen to be more because of combination factors including genetics and environment.
Some people at risk of having breast cancer might not have any symptoms all their life whereas other people may develop cancer out of no risk.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Any changes observed in the breast appearance should be reported to a doctor even if the recent tests or mammogram were normal. Prompt evaluation of the condition or any lump that has occurred recently is important to prevent any further damage or spread of the disease.
Inherited Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is mostly inherited as mutation genes. Having a strong history of breast cancer increases the risk significantly. A doctor can review your family history and guide you to make a decision after discussing the risks and limitations of genetic testing.
Risk Factors of Having Breast Cancer
Factors making you more likely to have breast cancer are known as risk factors but that does not mean you are going to develop cancer. The common risk factors linked to cancer are discussed below.
- Increased Age
Increasing age is a risk factor for developing breast cancer.
- Being a Female
Breast cancer is more common in females as compared to males. So being a female, you are more likely to have it.
- History of Breast Conditions
If you have already had a biopsy of your breast and there were problems in the result, you are at risk.
- History of Breast Cancer
Having breast cancer running in your family particularly puts you at risk too. You may have it even at a young age if you have it in your genes. Inherited genes from family can be passed upon to you.
- Radiation Exposure
Having exposure to radiations as a child or young adult can increase the risk of breast cancer as the tissues in the chest area are already affected.
Obesity is never good for you and breast cancer risk also increases with being overweight.
- Period Starting at Young Age
The average age of starting puberty is 12. Girls having their period before the age of 12 are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Menopause at Older Age
Menopause at an older age can also significantly increase the risk of having breast cancer.
- Giving Birth for the First Time after the Age of 30
Having your first child after the age of 30 will also increase your risk of breast cancer. It is therefore recommended to try earlier than regretting later on.
- Never been Pregnant
Women who never have been pregnant are also at a greater risk of breast cancer.
- Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol is another culprit for many health disorders as it only worsens health.
- Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy
Women having hormone therapy of hormones are also at an increased risk of having breast cancer. The treatment is usually used for symptoms of menopause which can otherwise become a risk factor for breast cancer.
How to Prevent Breast Cancer?
Women had an average risk of developing breast cancer can alter their lifestyle to prevent having it.
Discuss with your doctor about having screening tests to evaluate their condition. Breast screening strategies can be beneficial for you as your doctor will give you a clearer picture of the risk you have.
Self Breast exam can help you have examined your breasts yourself regularly. Noticing any unusual signs in the breast will make you talk to your doctor instantly as you will be aware of what is not right.
Exercising regularly will reduce your risk of having breast cancer significantly. It is recommended to have 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
Postmenopausal hormonal therapy should be limited as they overload your body with excess estrogen and progesterone which can affect you negatively.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for improving overall health. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about the changes you are about to make.
Mediterranean diet helps you add healthy fats to your diet. The diet has a perfect combination of fruits, plant-based foods, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. The diet can significantly reduce your risk of having breast cancer.
Who is at High Risk of Having Breast Cancer?
Women having a family history of breast cancer are at high risk of developing it. Having a precancerous condition of the breast may want you to discuss the prevention options with a doctor.
Estrogen Blocking Medications
Such medicines are known to have side effects and therefore only used for the high-risk patients when there is no other effective method of reducing their breast cancer risk. However, the benefits and risks of the medication should be discussed with the doctor beforehand.
Women at very high risk of developing breast cancer can have their breasts removed through surgery. Even healthy ovaries can be removed to avoid having ovarian cancer in the future. Discuss the options available and needed in your condition.