Breast Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors & Prevention
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow abnormally & uncontrollably. In India Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and accounts for 27% of all cancers. Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but remains the second leading cause of death among women from Cancer. The incidence rates in India begin to rise in the early 30’s and peak at ages 50-64 years. Overall, 1 in 28 women is prone to develop breast cancer during her lifetime, In urban areas, 1 in 22 women & in rural areas 1 in 60 women develops breast cancer in her lifetime.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Different Patients have different breast cancer Symptoms. Some patients do not show any Breast Cancer symptoms or signs at all, they may find out about their breast cancer after a routine mammogram.
Some Breast Cancer Symptoms & warning signs are:
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast is one of the major Breast Cancer Symptoms.
- New lump in the breast or underarm armpit.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
Keep in mind that these Breast Cancer symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any of above Breast cancer symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
What are the Causes & risk factors for breast cancer?
Most women who have one or more breast cancer symptoms & risk factors never developed breast cancer, while many women suffering from breast cancer have no known risk factors (except being a woman and growing older). Even when a woman with risk factors develops breast cancer, it’s very difficult to say just how much these factors might have contributed.
Some risk factors, like individual’s age or race, can’t be changed. Other factors are linked to Environment & Individual’s Lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking, and diet. Some factors have more impact than other factors. Factors like Aging & Lifestyle can change the Risk for Breast Cancer over time.
Breast cancer risk factors you cannot control
Gender & Age are the main risk factors for breast cancer that you cannot control. These factors make your risk of breast cancer higher. But having these risk factors, do not necessarily imply a Breast Cancer.
Risk factors include:
- Being a Woman: Men can have breast cancer, too, but women are 100 times more prone to this disease than that of men. As men have less of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can induce breast cancer cell growth.
- Getting older: The risk for breast cancer increases with person’s age. Most breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women aged above 50.
- Genetic mutations: Inherited changes to certain genes such as BRCA2 and BRCA1. Women are at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer who have derived these genetic mutations.
- Early menstrual period: Women who get their Menstrual periods before age 12 are exposed to hormones longer, increasing the risk for breast cancer by a small amount.
- Late or no pregnancy: Never having a full-term pregnancy or Having the first pregnancy after age 30 and can raise breast cancer risk.
- Starting menopause after age 55: Being exposed to estrogen hormones for a long time later in life increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Physically activity: Lower Physical Activity increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Obesity after menopause: Older, overweight Women have an increased risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
- Having dense breast tissue: Breasts are made up of fibrous tissue, fatty tissue, and glandular tissue. When glandular and fibrous tissue are more and fatty tissues are less then it is known as Dense Breast. Women with dense breasts on mammogram have a higher risk of breast cancer that is 1.2 to 2 times that of women with normal breast density. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also impact the accuracy of the Mammograms.Breast density is affected by a number of factors such as menopausal status, age, pregnancy, the use of certain drugs (such as menopausal hormone therapy), and genetics.
- Using combination hormone therapy: Taking hormones for more than five years to replace the missing estrogen and progesterone in menopause for more than five years increases the risk for breast cancer.
- Taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives): Studies have found that Certain forms of oral contraceptive pills have been found to increase the breast cancer risk. Risk seems to go back to normal over time once they stop taking the pills. Women who stopped using oral contraceptives more than 10 years ago do not appear to have any increased breast cancer risk. When thinking about using oral contraceptives, women should discuss their other risk factors for breast cancer with their health care provider.
- Personal history of breast cancer: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time.
- Personal history of certain non-cancerous breast diseases: Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are associated with a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Family history of Breast Cancer: It’s important to note that most women (about 8 out of 10) who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease, but:
- Women who have close blood relatives with breast cancer have a higher risk of the disease.
- Having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about 3-fold.
- Women with a father or brother who have had breast cancer also have a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Overall, less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease.
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy: Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts (like for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
- Drinking alcohol: Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Your race and ethnicity
Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. In women under 45 years of age, breast cancer is more common in African-American women. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
Lifestyle-related breast cancer risk factors
Certain breast cancer risk factors are related to personal behaviors, such as diet and exercise. Other lifestyle-related risk factors include decisions about having children and taking birth control.
Evidence is growing that physical activity in the form of exercise reduces breast cancer risk. The main question is how much exercise is needed. In one study from the Women’s Health Initiative, as little as 1¼ to 2½ hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk by 18%. Walking 10 hours a week reduced the risk a little more.
To reduce your risk of breast cancer, it is advised that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.
Moderate activity is anything that makes you breathe as hard as you do during a brisk walk. During moderate activities, you’ll notice a slight increase in heart rate and breathing. You should be able to talk, but not sing during the activity. Vigorous activities are performed at a higher intensity. They cause an increased heart rate, sweating, and a faster breathing rate. Activities that improve strength and flexibility, such as weight lifting, stretching, or yoga, are also beneficial.
Women who have not had children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk overall. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at an early age reduces breast cancer risk overall. Still, the effect of pregnancy is different for different types of breast cancer. For a certain type of breast cancer known as triple-negative, pregnancy seems to increase risk.
Some studies suggest that breastfeeding may slightly lower breast cancer risk, especially if it’s continued for 1½ to 2 years.
The explanation for this possible effect may be that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s total number of lifetime menstrual cycles (the same as starting menstrual periods at a later age or going through early menopause).
Important Links –
Factors with unclear effect on breast cancer risk
Breast Cancer Risk Factors with Unclear Effect
World Cancer Day 2018 …
Cervical Cancer: Prevention & Control
Breastfeeding: My Route, My Journey!
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