Overview of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer found in women in the United States. It can occur in both men and women, but is more common in women. Breast cancer is the type of cancer that originates in the breasts. Early detection has led to an increased survival rate of people diagnosed with breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or thickening of the tissue that feels different. If you notice a lump, it is important to contact your physician immediately. You may also notice a variety of other changes to the breast, such as to the size, shape, or appearance. The appearance may change the skin through peeling, scaling, flaking, or crusting. It may turn red or begin to dimple.
Causes of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is caused by the cells in the breast beginning to grow abnormally. The cells grow and divide faster than the healthy cells do and they do not die. When this occurs, a lump or mass is found. These cells may spread to your lymph nodes or through to other parts of the body.
Invasive ductal carcinoma is the type of breast cancer that begins within the cells of the milk-producing ducts.
Invasive lobal carcinoma begins in the lobules, or the glandular tissue, or in other cells within the breasts.
There are a variety of other hormonal, environmental, or lifestyle factors that will affect whether or not you are at an increased risk of breast cancer. In some cases, there are no risk factors associated with some people that have breast cancer.
In some cases, there is a gene mutation that is passed on through generations of families. If your family has a history of breast cancer, then your physician may recommend that you are given a blood test to see if you have specific mutations that carry the gene.
Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
There are a variety of risk factors that are associated with breast cancer. If you have one or more risk factor, it does not mean that you will develop breast cancer, however, it means that you and your physician should be proactive about watching the development.
Being female is the first risk factor that is associated with breast cancer. Women are much more likely to develop breast cancer than men. The older you are, the higher the risk of breast cancer as well.
If you have a personal history of breast conditions/ cancer or a family history of breast cancer, then you will want to also keep a watch for any changes in your body.
If you have previously been exposed to radiation, whether through work or previous cancer treatments, you are at a high risk.
Being obese also increases your risk of breast cancer.
If you began your period at a young age, had a child at an older age, or began menopause at a older age you are more likely to develop breast cancer.
How to Prevent Breast Cancer
There are a variety of changes that can be made in your daily life to aid in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Early detection is the first step, as the sooner it is detected, the better the outcome is. Ask your physician about regular testing and screening. A breast self-exam is a good way to find any changes that have occurred in the breast. If you feel something, such as a new lump, then you will want to see your physician immediately for testing.
If you drink alcohol, then you will want to quit drinking or limit the amount that you drink.
Living a healthy lifestyle is so important. You will want to choose a healthy diet, such as one with plant-based foods, fish, etc. If you are obese or need to lose weight, ask your physician for tips and tricks to lose weight. Losing weight will aid in having a healthy lifestyle. Exercise for 30 minutes a day. If you are not used to exercising, then you will want to start slow and ask your physician for tips on beginning.
If you are on postmenopausal hormone therapy, then you may want to weigh the risk and benefits of this with your physician. This therapy is thought to cause breast cancer. If you must be on this therapy, limit the dose and use it for the least amount of time.
Diagnosing Breast Cancer
There are a variety of ways that your physician may diagnose breast cancer. A mammogram is a routine test that screens for breast cancer. An ultrasound may be used to see if the lump is a mass or if it is fluid-filled. A biopsy may be done to determine the type of cancer. An MRI is another imaging test that may be used.
Once the cancer has been diagnosed, your physician will want to determine the stage of breast cancer that you have. A positron emission tomography (PET)/computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scan, blood test, or blood test may be used to determine this.
The type of tests that you receive will determine on each individual person and their physician. Breast cancer is diagnosed in stages from 0 to IV, with 0 being the least invasive.
Treatment of Breast Cancer
The treatment of breast cancer that you receive will determine on the type, stage, and size of breast cancer that you have. You and your physician will discuss which options are best for you. In some cases, there may be multiple treatments types that are needed for treatment.
Surgery may be recommended to remove the breast cancer. During a lumpectomy, the surgeon will remove the tumor and a small section of surrounding healthy tissue. This is typically used in small tumors. A mastectomy is used to remove the entire breast. On a smaller scale, the surgeon may only remove the lymph node.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams of energy to kill the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is a drug that is used to kill off cancer cells. If your cancer is a high risk of moving to other parts of the body, your physician may recommend this. If your tumor is large, the physician may start with chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumor, so then surgery can be done to remove the rest.