Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer – What All Women Should Know

Introduction to Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the breast glands. After skin cancer, this is the most common type of cancer in women. Although breast cancer can occur in both sexes, it is not common in men, so it is generally considered a women’s disease.

A combination of genetic and environmental factors influences the development of breast cancer. Some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer because of their family history or specific genetic mutations. Other factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer include obesity, alcohol consumption, early menarche and late menopause, a delayed first pregnancy, and not getting enough physical activity. On the other hand, breastfeeding protects against breast cancer.

Despite advances in detection and treatment, breast cancer still poses a significant health threat to women worldwide. It is important for people to know what their risk factors are and what they can do to lower their risk of developing breast cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The first thing to understand is the difference between signs and symptoms. The changes that can be observed are called Signs, such as a lump or a change in the shape of the breast. Symptoms, on the other hand, are changes that are felt by the person experiencing them, such as pain or discomfort in the breast.

Some common signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

A lump or thickening in the breast or underarm area

Changes in the size or shape of the breast

Skin changes, such as dimpling or puckering

Changes in the appearance of the nipple

Nipple discharge or turning inward of the nipple

Redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin

Tenderness in the breast or underarm area

Constant pain in the breast or underarm area

In advanced stages of breast cancer, symptoms may include:

Fatigue

Weight loss

Bone pain.

Remember, everyone’s experience with breast cancer is different, and not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. Some people may have no symptoms until cancer has reached an advanced stage. That is why it is vital to be proactive about your health and to stay up to date with recommended screening tests.

It is also important to note that not all breast lumps are not cancerous. Some of them may be caused by other conditions, such as an infection or a benign (non-cancerous) growth. However, if you notice any changes in your breasts, you must see a doctor for a proper evaluation. A healthcare provider can examine and recommend appropriate tests and treatment if necessary.

Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

Warning or sometimes called alarming signs are changes that may occur over a short period of time in an otherwise healthy person. They may indicate the presence of underlying breast cancer. They should be promptly addressed, examined and investigated either to rule out or diagnose the cancer.

It is also important to address these promptly because if the cancer is diagnosed at a fairly early stage it could have more successful treatment.

These may include:

Appearance of unusual lump in a short period of time

Noticeable change in the shape or size of the breast

Changes in the texture or color of the skin on the breast

Inversion of the nipple, or retraction of the nipple

Discharge from the nipple, other than breast milk

Swelling or pain in the armpit or arm

It is important to note that not all of these signs are necessarily indicative of breast cancer. Some of them may be caused by other conditions, such as an infection or a benign (non-cancerous) growth.

However, if you experience any of these signs, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider immediately to determine the cause and to determine if further testing is necessary.

Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Early detection and treatment of breast cancer can significantly improve your chances of successful treatment and a positive outcome.

  • Regular breast exams

Women should perform a breast self-exam at least once a month to check for any changes in the breasts. This involves feeling the breasts and underarm area for lumps or other abnormalities.

  • Clinical breast exams

Women should have a clinical breast exam performed by a doctor or healthcare provider at least once every three years. The doctor will feel the breasts and underarm area during this exam for lumps or other abnormalities.

Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

  • Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a commonly used imaging technique for breast cancer diagnosis. It involves using high-frequency sound waves to produce images of breast tissue. During the procedure, a hand 5 held device called a transducer is placed on the skin of the breast and moved around to produce images of the breast tissue. These images can help identify abnormalities that may indicate the presence of breast cancer. Ultrasound is often used in combination with other diagnostic techniques, such as mammography or biopsy, to accurately diagnose breast cancer. It is a non-invasive and painless procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s office or outpatient setting.

  • Mammograms

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is a type of imaging test that uses low-dose X-rays to produce detailed images of breast tissue. It is a standard method used to screen for and diagnose breast cancer. During a mammography exam, the breast is placed on a platform and compressed with a plate to help produce clear images. The procedure is typically performed in a radiology department or mammography center and takes only a few minutes. 

Mammography can detect breast cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. Women should have a mammogram every year starting at age 45 and possibly earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer.

  • Biopsy

A biopsy is a medical procedure in which a small tissue sample is removed from the body and examined under a microscope to diagnose a specific condition. In the context of breast cancer diagnosis, a biopsy involves removing a small sample of breast tissue to be examined for the presence of cancer cells. Different biopsies can be performed to diagnose breast cancer, including fine needle aspiration (FNA), core needle biopsy, and excisional biopsy. 

A biopsy is usually recommended if a mammogram or other imaging test shows an abnormality in the breast tissue or if a breast lump or other breast symptom is present. The result of a biopsy is usually available within a few days to a week and can provide important information about the type and stage of breast cancer.

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.

Prevention Strategies for Breast Cancer

Preventing breast cancer is an important goal for many people. While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are several strategies you can use to reduce your risk of developing the disease. Here, we will discuss some of the prevention strategies for breast cancer and what you can do to reduce your risk.

These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer.

  • Exercising regularly

Regular physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of breast cancer.

  • Avoiding alcohol

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer.

  • Limiting your exposure to estrogen

Estrogen is a hormone that can promote the growth of breast cancer cells. Exposure to estrogen can come from certain medications, such as hormone replacement therapy, and certain chemicals, such as those found in certain plastics.

  • Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of breast cancer.

One of the critical strategies for preventing breast cancer is maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

These include:

Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods and saturated fats

Avoid processed meat

Avoiding tobacco and other forms of tobacco use

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer and other chronic diseases.

Another important strategy for preventing breast cancer is to undergo regular screening tests. These screening tests can help to detect breast cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable.

It is also essential to be aware of the risk factors for breast cancer, such as increasing age, family history of breast cancer, personal history of breast cancer or certain types of benign breast conditions, and inherited genetic mutations. 

Conclusion:

Breast cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. Knowing the symptoms, signs, and warning signs of breast cancer and taking steps to detect it early can improve your chances of successful treatment. 

Additionally, by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and avoiding known risk factors, you can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

It is important to pay attention to any changes in your breast tissue and to consult a healthcare provider if you notice any of these symptoms. Ignoring these symptoms because they do not fit the typical “hard, irregular-shaped, and painless” description of breast cancer could delay diagnosis and treatment.

Thank you for reading this article! 

At Horizon Hospital, our breast cancer team is dedicated to providing the highest level of care and support for those affected by breast cancer. We offer a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, utilizing the latest technology and treatments to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients. Our team of experts, is committed to providing personalized care and support throughout every stage of the treatment process. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.

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