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Breast Cancer

Overview

Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. Substantial support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped created advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease.

What are the symptoms of Breast Cancer?

There is no definite symptom to Breast Cancer. Most of the symptoms which are related to Breast Cancer are also present with non-cancer problems, so it is important get it checked out by a health specialist.

How does Breast Cancer present itself?

Most Breast Cancer present as a lump in the breast. It is very important to see your doctor. Cancer lumps often feel hard and grow steadily in the breast and eventually spread to the lymph glands causing hard lumps to be felt under the arm.

It is good to note that not all Breast Cancers present with a lump, and most lumps felt in the breast are not cancers but might be cysts or masses known as fibroadenomas. So it is always good to see your doctor for check up.

Cancer can show up without a lump, and if you experience some of these other symptoms you should also get checked out:

  • Change in the size and shape of the breast
  • Thickening of the skin of the nipple or ulceration
  • Eczema of the nipple, itching or scaly patches
  • Nipple turning inwards
  • Thickening or dimpling of the skin of the breast
  • Lumps noticed under the arm
  • Orange coloration of the nipple or breast.
  • Bloody or pus nipple discharge

Doctors know that breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do and continue to accumulate, forming a lump or mass. Cells may spread (metastasize) through your breast to your lymph nodes or to other parts of your body.

Breast cancer most often begins with cells in the milk-producing ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma). Breast cancer may also begin in the glandular tissue called lobules (invasive lobular carcinoma) or in other cells or tissue within the breast.

Researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer. But it’s not clear why some people who have no risk factors develop cancer, yet other people with risk factors never do. It’s likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of your genetic makeup and your environment.

Breast cancer risk reduction for women with an average risk

Making changes in your daily life may help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Try to:

  • Ask your doctor about breast cancer screening. Discuss with your doctor when to begin breast cancer screening exams and tests, such as clinical breast exams and mammograms.Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening. Together, you can decide what breast cancer screening strategies are right for you.
  • Become familiar with your breasts through breast self-exam for breast awareness. Women may choose to become familiar with their breasts by occasionally inspecting their breasts during a breast self-exam for breast awareness. If there is a new change, lumps or other unusual signs in your breasts, talk to your doctor promptly.Breast awareness can’t prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day, if you choose to drink.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you haven’t been active lately, ask your doctor whether it’s OK and start slowly.
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy.Some women experience bothersome signs and symptoms during menopause and, for these women, the increased risk of breast cancer may be acceptable in order to relieve menopause signs and symptoms.

    To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible for the shortest amount of time.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to accomplish this. Reduce the number of calories you eat each day and slowly increase the amount of exercise.
  • Choose a healthy diet. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.

When to see a doctor

If you find a lump or other change in your breast — even if a recent mammogram was normal — make an appointment with your doctor for prompt evaluation.

Is Breast Cancer painful?

Unlike most cancers, Breast Cancer does not present with pain. That doesn’t mean that if you have a painful lump it can’t be cancer, but it is unusual for pain to be the first thing a woman with Breast Cancer notices. The most common way that women find a Breast Cancer is when they feel a lump in the breast or notice a discharge from the nipple. Remember to go for screening mammography and sonar after the age of forty every year, and get your breast specialist to examine you once a year too.  Also practice self breast exams.