The words you have breast cancer is possibly one of the most devastating statements an individual could image hearing from his or her physician even though breast cancer is the most common cancer among women The diagnosis bears a significant amount of anxiety and fear in regards to treatment and overall survival Researchers around the world are working to find better ways to prevent detect and treat breast cancer and to improve the quality of life of patients and survivors over the past 30 years Physicians are now better able to predict how particular breast cancers will react to treatment therefore they are able to choose more effective treatment options based on these findings Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women and the second main cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer Advances in screening and treatment have improved survival rates dramatically since 1989 There are around 3 1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States The chance of any woman dying from breast cancer is around 1 in 37
Awareness of the symptoms and the need for screening are important ways of reducing the risk Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that forms in the cells of the breast There are a number of symptoms associated with breast cancer but the first noticeable symptom is often a lump or area of thickened breast tissue A lump in the breast does not necessarily mean you have cancer most breast lumps are not cancerous However it is always best to have them checked by your doctor Treatment for breast cancer may include surgery radiation chemotherapy hormone therapy targeted therapy or bone directed therapy Causes Studies continue to uncover lifestyle factors and habits as well as inherited genes that affect breast cancer risk Here are a few examples Several studies are looking at the effect of exercise weight gain or loss and diet on risk Studies on the best use of genetic testing for breast cancer mutations continue at a rapid pace Scientists are exploring how common gene variations may affect breast cancer risk Gene variants typically have only a modest effect on risk but when taken together they could possibly have a large impact Possible environmental causes of breast cancer have also received more attention in recent years
While much of the science on this topic is still in its earliest stages this is an area of active research Symptoms 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 discharge from a nipple possibly containing blood A change in the size or shape of the breast Peeling flaking or scaling of the skin on the breast Stages Cancer is staged according to the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body There are different ways of staging breast cancer One way is from stage 0 to 4 but these may be broken down into smaller stages Risk factors The exact cause remains unclear but some risk factors make it more likely Some of these are preventable 1 Age The risk increases with age At 20 years the chance of developing breast cancer in the next decade is 0 6 percent By the age of 70 years this figure goes up to 3 84 percent 2 Genetics 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 3 A history of breast cancer or breast lumps 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 4 Dense breast tissue Breast cancer is more likely to develop in higher density breast tissue 5 Estrogen exposure and breast feeding Being exposed to estrogen for a longer period appears to increase the risk of breast cancer
This could be due to starting periods earlier or entering menopause later than average Between these times estrogen levels are higher Breastfeeding especially for over 1 year appears to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer possibly because pregnancy followed by breastfeeding reduces exposure to estrogen 6 Body weight 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 7 Alcohol consumption A higher rate of regular alcohol consumption appears to play a role Studies have shown that women who consume more than 3 drinks a day have a 1 5 times higher risk 8 Radiation exposure Undergoing radiation treatment for a cancer that is not breast cancer increases the risk of breast cancer later in life 9 Hormone treatments The use of hormone replacement therapy HRT and oral birth control pills have been linked to breast cancer due to increased levels of estrogen 10 Occupational hazards In 2012 researchers concluded that exposure to certain carcinogens and endocrine disruptors for example in the workplace could be linked to breast cancer In 2007 scientists suggested that working night shifts could increase the risk of breast cancer but more recent research concludes this is unlikely
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