Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer in their lifetime? According to breastcancer.org, in 2018 they estimate 266,120 new cases will be diagnosed. We at swap.com feel that it is important to educate and support breast cancer awareness. We’ve provided general breast cancer information, the leading risk factors, and ways we can help further its research and medical resources.
What is Breast Cancer?
Cancer is a group of diseases that cause body cells to change and spread out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a lump or mass called a tumor. That mass is named after the part of the body where the tumor originates. According to the American Cancer Society , most breast cancers begin either in the breast tissue made up of glands for milk production, called lobules, or in the ducts that connect the lobules to the nipple. The remainder of the breast is made up of fatty, connective, and lymphatic tissues.
What are signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is not easily detected while a tumor is small. This is why screening is important for early detection. The most common physical sign is a painless lump. Sometimes breast cancer spreads to underarm lymph nodes and causes a lump or swelling, even before the original breast tumor is large enough to be felt. Less common signs and symptoms include breast pain or heaviness; persistent changes, such as swelling, thickening, or redness of the skin; and nipple abnormalities such as spontaneous discharge (especially if bloody), erosion, or retraction.
How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
It cannot be stressed enough how annual and routine check ups are important as adults for both women and men. Breast cancer is usually detected during a mammogram. This is a screening examination. This is before women can see a small lump during self examinations or symptoms occur. The self examinations are encouraged to be done 3-5 days after your monthly cycle starts. The breast are less tender and lumpy at this time. According to the American Cancer Society, most masses and lumps detected during a mammogram are non cancerous. This means that they do not grow out of control and does not spread through the body. When cancer is suspected, microscopic analysis of breast tissue is necessary for a diagnosis and to determine the extent of spread (stage) and characterize the type of the disease.
Know the Risk Factors
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America, found that there are general, genetics, body, lifestyle and previous treatments that increase your risk factors of cancer.
- Aging: Women over 60 are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Only about 10 – 15 percent of breast cancers occur in women younger than 45. This can vary for different races or ethnicity.
- Gender: Although nearly 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, breast cancer is 100 times more common in women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 190,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer annually.
- Family history: Having a family history of breast cancer, particularly women with a mother, sister or daughter who has or had breast cancer, may double the risk.
- Inherited factors: Some inherited genetic mutations may increase your breast cancer risks. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common inherited causes. Other rare mutations may also make some women more susceptible to developing breast cancer. Gene testing can help reveal possible mutations especially with those that have a family history of mutations.
- Obesity: Weight gain during adulthood and excess body fat around the waist may increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Not having children: Women who have had no children, or who were pregnant later in life (over age 35) may have a greater chance of developing breast cancer. Breast-feeding for a year or more may help lower the risk of breast cancer.
- High breast density: Women with less fatty tissue and more glandular and fibrous tissue may be at higher risk for developing breast cancer than women with less dense breasts.
- Breast changes: Certain benign (noncancerous) breast conditions may increase breast cancer risk.
- Menstrual history: Women who start menstruation at an early age (before age 12) and/or menopause at an older age (after age 55) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. The increase in risk may be due to a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
- Heavy drinking: The use of alcohol is linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Birth control pills: The use oral contraceptives within the past 10 years may increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Combined post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT): Using combined hormone therapy after menopause increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Combined HT also increases the likelihood that the cancer may be found at a more advanced stage.
- Radiation exposure: Women who, as children or young adults, had radiation therapy to the chest area as treatment for another cancer have a significantly increased risk for breast cancer.
How can I help bring awareness?
We encourage that you educate your family and friends about breast cancer. There are hundreds of resources like the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America that provide education and treatment resources for breast cancer. As this affects women and men on a daily basis, we want to help lower the rate of breast cancer and support those that are trying to do the same. For more information on Breast Cancer Facts and figures please visit the American Cancer Society.
Please feel free to comment and provide cancer charities and resources to bring further support and awareness.
Sources: 1. American Cancer Society 2. Cancer Center Treatments of America 3. Breastcancer.org
Warning: This article is written for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be used in the diagnosis or treatment of any medical issues. If you have any question or concerns, please speak to your healthcare provider immediately.