October 27, 2016 12:00 AM | by Infomed
What Every Woman Needs to Know About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that affects the breast cells. Breast cancer primarily affects women, but it can affect men as well. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast become abnormal and start growing uncontrollably. This accumulation of cells forms a tumor. There is still no known cause of breast cancer, but there are factors that may increase your risk of developing it. However, sometimes women without risk factors still get it.
Exposure to estrogen. This may occur if you:
- Got your period before the age of 12
- Did not breastfeed
- Got pregnant with a first child after the age of 30
- Drink alcohol
- Took combined hormone therapy (estrogen and progesterone) for a long time
- Took estrogen externally for more than ten years
- Are overweight
- Began menopause at an old age
Other factors include:
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Family history of breast cancer
- Being over the age of 40
- Alcohol intake
- Exposure to radiation
- Inherited gene mutations
- Recent consumption of birth control pills
- A lump in the breast or the underarm
- Nipple inversion
- Swelling of part of the breast or all of it
- Pain in the breast or the nipple
- Nipple discharge that isn’t milk
- Skin changes in the breast or the nipple (peeling, flaking, dimpling, redness or scaling)
If you suspect that you have breast cancer, visit your doctor immediately. Early detection means better treatment. To check for breast cancer, your doctor will perform a breast exam to check for any lumps or abnormalities. Your doctor will also want to perform some imaging tests. Imaging tests include a mammography, which is an X-ray designed specifically to detect abnormalities in the breast. Your doctor may also perform an ultrasound or a breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. In some cases, your doctor may want to take a sample of your breast tissue and examine it under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.
Treating breast cancer differs from patient to patient. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy and surgery.
Chemotherapy involves using drugs that kill cancer cells, while radiation therapy involves using high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.
Targeted therapy, which is also called biological therapy, is a type of treatment that targets specific abnormalities in cancer cells. It uses the body’s immune system to attack the cells.
Hormone therapy involves using medications that block hormones that may be helping the tumor to grow. It is usually used after other treatments to ensure that the cancer does not return.
Surgical options include surgery to remove the tumor, the entire breast and/or the surrounding lymph nodes. The type of surgery depends on the severity of the cancer and its spread.
Talk to your doctor about treatment options for your specific case and the side effects of each treatment.
While there is no known way to prevent breast cancer. There are things you can do to lower your risk.
Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet. Furthermore, quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
You should also see your doctor regularly to detect any abnormalities early on. You and your doctor can settle on a schedule for regular screenings.
Furthermore, make it a habit to examine your breasts regularly. If you notice any abnormalities, visit your doctor immediately.
Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle! Check out our Health & Fitness section here.
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