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Preventing Breast Cancer

Friday December 13 2013    |     Views: 2643    |     Comments: 0   |     Print    Bookmark and Share

Breast cancer is the most common cancer that occurs in women, even though it can also occur in some men. According to statistics, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. A woman’s visit to the doctor after a self breast examination that revealed some unusual signs can be very terrifying. When a breast lump is discovered after a breast examination, the prayer of the concerned individual is that it better not be a benign growth. Several thoughts will fill the individual’s mind and worry is definitely the utmost thing going on in the mind of such individual.

“I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve got breast cancer.” “Your mammogram is suspicious for breast cancer.” “Your biopsy was positive for breast cancer.” These and many more are among the terrifying words a woman can hear from her doctor. To the average woman, such statement is as well similar to a death sentence. Breast cancer elicits so many fears including those relating to death, surgery, loss of body image, and loss of sexuality. But there is hope. With early detection, many more women can survive breast cancer.



The body is made up of trillions of living cells. Normal body cells grow, divide into new cells, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person's life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair injuries.

Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.


Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it too.

Breast cancer begins in a cell, which divides and multiplies at an uncontrolled rate. A small clump of cancer cells are too tiny to be felt, so the earliest stages of breast cancer usually have no symptoms. A mammogram can detect cancer before you can feel a lump, which is why your annual screening mammogram is so important. Some benign breast conditions can seem like cancer, so its good to know the difference, and get a health professional to check out worrisome lumps.





The classic symptom for breast cancer is a lump found in the breast or armpit. An aggressive type of this disease, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), grows in sheets or nests of tumor cells that invade the skin and can resemble a rash.  The first noticeable symptom of breast cancer is typically a lump that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. More than 80 per cent of breast cancer cases are discovered when the woman feels a lump. The earliest breast cancers are detected by a mammogram. Lumps found in lymph nodes located in the armpits can also indicate breast cancer.


Indications of breast cancer other than a lump may include thickening different from the other breast tissue, one breast becoming larger or lower, a nipple changing position or shape or becoming inverted, skin puckering or dimpling, a rash on or around a nipple, discharge from nipple(s), constant pain in part of the breast or armpit, and swelling beneath the armpit or around the collarbone.


 Doing your monthly breast self-exam (BSE) is a great way to be familiar with your breasts’texture, cyclical changes, size, and skin condition. Early detection is the best way to protect your health and improve your odds of survival. Do not hesitate to see your doctor or nurse for a clinical breast exam (CBE) if you have a question about a change in your breasts.




The risk factors for breast cancer can be divided into two major groups- factors that can be controlled and factors that cannot be controlled. The risk of an individual is calculated by looking at several factors, some of which an individual is born with, and some of which you can choose. Knowing your health background will help you and your doctor make good choices about lifestyle and health care, which can lower your risk of breast cancer.


Factors that can be controlled include:


Alcohol use - Drinking more than 1 - 2 glasses of alcohol a day may increase your risk of breast cancer.


Smoking- Smoking tobacco appears to increase the risk of breast cancer with the greater the amount smoked and the earlier in life smoking began the higher the risk. In those who are long term smokers the risk is increased by 35 per cent to 50 per cent.


Childbirth - Women who have never had children or who had them only after age thirty have an increased risk of breast cancer. Being pregnant more than once or becoming pregnant at an early age reduces your risk of breast cancer.


Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - You have a higher risk of breast cancer if you have received hormone replacement therapy with estrogen for several years or more.


Radiation - If you received radiation therapy as a child or young adult to treat cancer of the chest area, you have a very high risk of developing breast cancer. The younger you started such radiation and the higher the dose, the higher your risk. This is especially true if the radiation was given during breast development.

Breast implants, using antiperspirants, and wearing underwire bras do not raise the risk of breast cancer.


Factors that cannot be controlled include:


Age and gender - Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. Most advanced breast cancer cases are found in women over age fifty. Men can also get breast cancer. But they are hundred times less likely than women to get breast cancer.


Family history of breast cancer - You may also have a higher risk of breast cancer if you have a close relative who has had breast, uterine, ovarian, or colon cancer.


Genes - Some people have genetic mutations that make them more likely to develop breast cancer.


Menstrual cycle - Women who got their periods early (before age twelve) or went through menopause late (after age fifty-five) have an increased risk of breast cancer.




Women may reduce their risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol, being physically active and breastfeeding their children.  


Marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids appear to reduce the risk. Salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and herring - all of these fish are rich in oils that could knock your risk for breast cancer down by 14 per cent below average. Putting some fish on your dinner plate two times a week can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Pair your fish with healthy whole grains. Wind up your meal with a mix of fresh fruits, instead of baked sweets. Wash it all down with water, fresh fruit juice, or green tea. But if you don't get along with fish, you might benefit from taking fish oil supplements instead.



Breast cancer screening refers to testing otherwise-healthy women for breast cancer in an attempt to achieve an earlier diagnosis under the assumption that early detection will improve outcomes. A number of screening test have been employed including: clinical and self breast exams, mammography, genetic screening, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


A clinical or self breast exam involves feeling the breast for lumps or other abnormalities. Clinical breast exams are performed by health care providers, while self breast exams are performed by the person themselves. Mammographic screening for breast cancer uses X-rays to examine the breast for any uncharacteristic masses or lumps. During a screening, the breast is compressed and a technician takes photos from multiple angles. A general mammogram takes photos of the entire breast, while a diagnostic mammogram focuses on a specific lump or area of concern.


Whether you are at low or high risk, you have many options to lower your risk. When its found at an early stage, breast cancer can effectively be treated, and there are several ways to help prevent recurrence. Take responsibility for your breast health. Early detection will save your life.

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