Breast cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the breast. These abnormal cells grow and divide faster than normal cells. They can also invade the breast and surrounding tissue and spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Breast cancer is a disease of humans and other mammals; while the overwhelming majority of cases in humans are women, men can also develop breast cancer.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer:
-Being a woman : simply being a woman is the main risk factor for breast cancer. Men can get breast cancer, too, but this disease is about 100 times more common in women than in men.
-As you get older, your risk of breast cancer goes up. Most breast cancers are found in women age 55 and older.
- If a close relative has or has had, breast cancer, the risk is higher.
Women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer or both. These genes can be inherited. TP53 is another gene that is linked to a greater breast cancer risk
- Women who have had breast cancer before are more likely to have it again, compared with those who have no history of the disease.
Having some types of benign, or non-cancerous breast lumps increases the chance of developing cancer later on. Examples include atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.
-Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women. But in women under age 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women. African-American women are also more likely to die from breastcancer at any age. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is more likely to develop in higher density breast tissue
-Women who have had more menstrual cycles because they started menstruating early (especially before age 12) 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.
-Women who have had more menstrual cycles because they went through menopause later (after age 55) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. The increase in risk may be because they have a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
-Women who were treated with radiation therapy to the chest for another cancer (such as Hodgkin disease or non-Hodgkin lymphoma) when they were younger have a significantly higher risk for breast cancer. This varies with the patient’s age when they got radiation. The risk is highest if you had radiation as a teen or young adult, when your breasts were still developing. Radiation treatment after age 40 does not seem to increase breast cancer risk.
- Women who are overweight or have obesity after menopause may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, possibly due to higher levels of estrogen. High sugar intake may also be a factor.
-Not being physically active
-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. Still, the effect of pregnancy seems to be 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. But this has been hard to study, especially in countries like the United States, where breastfeeding for this long is uncommon.
-- The use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and oral birth control pills have been linked to breast cancer, due to increased levels of estrogen.
The first symptoms of breast cancer are usually an area of thickened tissue in the breast, or a lump in the breast or in an armpit.
Other symptoms include:
§ a pain in the armpits or breast that does not change with the monthly cycle
§ pitting or redness of the skin of the breast, like the skin of an orange
§ a rash around or on one of the nipples
§ a discharge from a nipple, possibly containing blood
§ a sunken or inverted nipple
§ a change in the size or shape of the breast
§ peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple
Most lumps are not cancerous, but women should have them checked by a health care professional.
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but some lifestyle decisions can significantly reduce the risk of breast and other types of cancer.
§ avoiding excess alcohol consumption
§ following a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
§ getting enough exercise
§ maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI)
§ Early detection and treatment is still the best strategy for a better cancer outcome. The following is a common strategy, but ask your doctor exactly what you should do to help prevent breast cancer or find it early:
-Check your breasts once a month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. Have a thorough medical checkup once a year, and have annual mammograms. Some experts, including the American Cancer Society, recommend starting screening mammography at age 45, while others recommend beginning regular mammogram screening at age 50.Some experts recommend starting mammograms at age 40 or earlier, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about when you should have your first mammogram.
§ If you use contraception, ask your doctor about the pros and cons of birth control pills.
§ If you are near or in menopause, ask your doctor if you should use hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms. Studies suggest that hormone replacement, especially therapies with a combination of estrogens and progestins, can increase the risk of breast cancer. You and your doctor can make this decision based on your risk of breast cancer.
§ If you are at high risk for breast cancer, certain drugs that block the effects of estrogen, such as raloxifene and tamoxifen, have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. The risks and benefits of using these medications should be discussed with your doctor.