Breast cancer statistics
As of this writing, statistics show that one in nine women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. While a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer increases as she gets older, she should always be on the lookout for subtle symptoms and act quickly if she suspects anything out of the norm as certain types of breast cancer have a tendency to spread quickly.
Breast Cancer Personal Check List:
A woman’s family history plays a significant role in determining her risk for breast cancer. A family history could be described as three or more relatives diagnosed with breast cancer, and families that have multiple generations of breast cancer patients are at an increased risk.
If you have family members with early-onset breast cancer or cancer in both breasts, suffer from a very cancer, or have mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have up to an 85% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70.
This particular mutation typically occurs in Jewish women of Ashkenazi decent.
However, heredity is not the only risk factor involved in developing breast cancer. A woman’s lifestyle and environment can play a major factor in determining her risk for developing breast cancer. Some risk factors include:
1. High-fat diet
2. Excessive alcohol
4. Child bearing after 30 or no children at all
5. Menopause after you are 52
Understand however, some would be diagnosed with breast cancer without being part of any of these high-risk groups.
Breast cancer signs and symptoms
1. A lump in the breast with a tissue surrounding the breast
2. Breast tenderness
3. Swelling in the armpits
4. The appearance of your breast changes (what may appear to be higher than the other or change shapes)
5. Nipple changes (dimpled, itchy, flaking, inverted)
6. Discharge from the nipple (clear fluid or bloody discharge)
As stated earlier, even the slightest change should be met with a visit to your doctor as soon as possible, as breast cancer may spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body rapidly. Your doctor will examine your breasts and possibly prescribe a mammogram or breast x-ray just to be on the safe side.
If the mammogram shows any reason for concern, your physician will move forward with an ultrasound test. In this test, sound waves will be used to provide an image of the interior of the breast tissue. It’s used to pinpoint the exact location of any mass that might be present, and it also helps to determine whether the mass is cancerous.
In most instances, a needle biopsy is used to confirm diagnosis. Needle biopsies come in two types. With fine needle aspiration, a needle is inserted into the breast lump. If the lump is just a cyst, you will have a discharge when it is pierced with the needle. If there is no fluid present, and a lump is determined to be a tumor, cells are removed to be examined. If however you receive a core needle biopsy, breast tissue cells will be removed and examined.
If the tumor size is less than 4 cm, it can typically be removed surgically via a lumpectomy (removal of the lump), followed by radiation treatment. If the tumor is larger than the 4 cm, then a mastectomy (removal of the breast and underlying tissue) is needed. After the mastectomy, you can opt to have the breast reconstructed or wait until a later date.
During surgery, your physician will remove lymph nodes from under your arm which will be examined for the presence of cancerous cells. Chemotherapy or hormone therapy with Tamoxifen will be the next course of action for women diagnosed with positive lymph nodes. Since there are a number of treatment options available for breast cancer depending on tumor size, lymph node involvement, and the presence of either positive or negative estrogen receptors, you should begin conversations about various options with your doctor as soon as possible.
Breast cancer and hormone therapy
Many women are opting for treating breast cancer with hormone therapy. Tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen on the breast, which will stop the growth of cancerous cells. Unfortunately, women taking Tamoxifen has been shown to raise the risk of uterine cancer, to make sure you are screened carefully before taking this drug.