Breast cancer has become a fatal disease that terrorizes many people especially women. Cancer, in general, has become more dreaded than HIV/AIDS. Most cancers are incurable. There are various types of cancer (prostate cancer, oral cancer, cervical cancer, blood cancer, breast cancer, bone cancer etc are to name a few) few of which the scientists have managed to find a cure in the initial stage.
Breast cancer though is mostly curable, yet life-threatening. Many people think that breast cancer affects only women but that’s not true. Though the majority of affected persons are female. It occurs in males too. But women are more at risk than men.
Common Facts About Breast cancer
This cancer develops from breast tissues, mostly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Survival rates for breast cancer vary greatly depending on the cancer type, stage, treatment, and geographical location of the patient.
Surgery, chemotherapy or medication required for its treatment is determined by the type and stage of cancer. Breast cancers are caused by the hormone, estrogen. Estrogen causes breast cancer tumour to grow. Breast cancer risk is low before age 30 and increases with age.
Breast cancer diagnosis involves several procedures. It includes; mammogram, ultra-sonography, surgical biopsy, aspiration, etc. Few factors that increase the risk of developing this disease include; history of breast disease, reproductive and menstrual history, dietary Factors, radiation exposure, age, race, etc.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer has several symptoms just like most diseases. These symptoms must be known to everyone so that you can call for help anytime you notice such symptoms. The cause of some breast cancer can be known from the symptoms observed. Few of the symptoms and causes are listed below:
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- Lump on the breast is usually the first apparent symptom of this cancer. It’s usually visible on a mammogram long before they can be seen or felt. Breast lumps are usually painless, although some may cause a prickly sensation. So, watch out for this lump.
- Change in the size, shape, or feel of the breast or nipple such as having redness or dimpling or puckering that looks like the skin of an orange can be the symptoms of cancer.
- Metastasis is another serious complication of this disease. Metastasis is the process by which cells from a tumour break off and move to other areas of the body, either through the blood or the lymphatic vessels, and start growing there e.g. lymph nodes, lungs, liver, bones, brain, and skin.
- Unusual discharge from the nipple that may be bloody, clear or of another colour may be caused as a result of cancer.
- Symptoms of advanced breast cancer may include breast pain or discomfort, swelling in the armpit present next to the breast, skin ulcers, weight loss, bone pain etc.
Causes of Breast cancer
- Menstrual cycle: Women who get their periods early i.e. before the age of 12 years or goes through late menopause i.e. after the age of 55yrs increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Childbirth: Women who had children after age 30 have or who have never had children gets an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Oral contraceptives: if used over many years increase risks slightly,
- Genes: Some people have genetic mutations that make them more likely to develop breast cancer. The most common gene defects are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
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- Dietary Factors: Alcohol or sometimes overcooked meats might be the reasons of acquiring breast cancer. Even obesity is a reason for getting cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): increases the risk of getting breast cancer to a great extent if you have received hormone replacement therapy with estrogen for several years or more.
Breast Cancer Prevention
studies have shown that lifestyle changes can decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. These lifestyle changes include:
- Consume less alcohol: The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing cancer. The general recommendation — based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk — is to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day as even small amounts increase risk.
- Don’t Smoke: Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
- Control your weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
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- Exercise more: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
- Breast-feed More: Breast-feeding might play a role in the prevention of this disease. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
- Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of this disease. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with non-hormonal therapies and medications. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you and continue to have your doctor monitor the length of time you are taking hormones.
- Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.
These are a few points that will hopefully help in creating awareness among people against breast cancer and help decrease the death rate caused by this deadly disease.