Risks For Breast Cancer
A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. But sometimes breast cancer develops in women who dont have any of the risk factors described below.
Most breast cancers occur in women. The main reason women develop breast cancer is because their breast cells are exposed to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones, especially estrogen, are linked with breast cancer and encourage the growth of some breast cancers.
Breast cancer is more common in high-income, developed countries such as Canada, the United States and some European countries. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer mostly occurs in women between 50 and 69 years of age.
Surgery For Breast Cancer
Most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. Common types of breast surgery are lumpectomy, mastectomy, and taking out lymph nodes from the underarm. Women who have a mastectomy may also decide to have the breast shape rebuilt, either at the same time or later on.
Choosing between lumpectomy and mastectomy
Lumpectomy only takes out the lump and a little bit around it. It lets you keep most of your breast. The downside is that youll most likely need radiation treatment after surgery. But some women who have a mastectomy also need radiation afterward.
When choosing between a lumpectomy and mastectomy, be sure to get all the facts. At first you may think that a mastectomy is the best way to get it all out. Some women tend to choose mastectomy because of this. But in most cases, lumpectomy is just as good as mastectomy. Talk to your cancer care team. Learn as much as you can to make the right choice for you.
If you have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having your breast shape rebuilt. This is called breast reconstruction. Its not done to treat the cancer. Its done to build a breast shape that looks a lot like your natural breast.
If youre going to have a mastectomy and are thinking about having reconstruction, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy is done. Your breast can be rebuilt at the same time the mastectomy is done or later on.
Side effects of surgery
What Does The Current Evidence Show
There are some things that research has told us about smoking and breast cancer. Lets examine what we know.
It appears that breast cancer risk is linked to a smoking habit thats lasted for many years. For example, people with a history of smoking have about a breast cancer risk than people whove never smoked.
A found that the risk of breast cancer increased in women who:
- currently smoke or previously smoked a large number of cigarettes
- started smoking at a younger age
- smoked for many years
- smoke a higher number of pack-years, with risk increasing with every 20 pack-years
- smoked before the birth of their first child
A more recent looked at data pooled from 14 different cohort studies and found that:
- The overall association of smoking with breast cancer was modest.
- Smoking for more than 10 years before the birth of a first child carried a high risk of breast cancer.
- Smoking 40 or more cigarettes per day was associated with the highest risk of breast cancer.
- Drinking alcohol can have a compounding effect on breast cancer risk, particularly when heavy drinking is combined with smoking a large number of cigarettes or smoking for many years.
Exposure to secondhand smoke may also increase a womans risk of breast cancer. A found that women who were frequently around secondhand smoke had similar breast cancer risk to active smokers.
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A Family History Of Breast Cancer
Having someone in your family with breast cancer doesnt automatically mean your own risk is increased. For most people, having a relative with breast cancer does not increase their risk.
However, a small number of women and men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history.
Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables And Avoid Too Much Alcohol
A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer.; Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower .; While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.; If you dont drink, dont feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, theres likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.
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How Much Do Tamoxifen And Raloxifene Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Multiple studies have shown that both tamoxifen and raloxifene can reduce the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in healthy postmenopausal women who are at high risk of developing the disease. Tamoxifen lowered the risk by 50 percent. Raloxifene lowered the risk by 38 percent. Overall, the combined results of these studies showed that taking tamoxifen or raloxifene daily for five years reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by at least one-third. In one trial directly comparing tamoxifen with raloxifene, raloxifene was found to be slightly less effective than tamoxifen for preventing breast cancer.
Both tamoxifen and raloxifene have been approved for use to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Tamoxifen is approved for use in both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women . Raloxifene is approved for use only in postmenopausal women.
Less common but more serious side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include blood clots to the lungs or legs. Other serious side effects of tamoxifen are an increased risk for cataracts and endometrial cancers. Other common, less serious shared side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Ductal carcinoma in situ is considered non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. In DCIS , cells that lined the ducts have changed to look like cancer cells. The difference between DCIS and invasive cancer is that the cells have not spread through the walls of the ducts into the surrounding tissue of the breast . DCIS is considered a pre-cancer because some cases can go on to become invasive cancers. Right now, though, there is no good way to know for certain which cases will go on to become invasive cancers and which ones wont. DCIS accounts for about 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer in men. It is almost always curable with surgery.
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New Here Benched By Breast Cancer
New here. Benched by breast cancer
So Im finally ready to share where my story began.
It took a while and prompting but doc finally put in requisition for mammo and US.
during this time noticed a structural change to R breast when I raised my arm. At first didnt think much – made up excuses in my head : muscle pull, or scar tissue.
I started to get scared and about a week before my mammo appt finally told my husband and showed him what I was talking about. .
Long story short after mammo, Ultrasound and biopsy its cancer.
>Invasive ductal carcinoma with lymphnode involvement on R .
I got the confirmed diagnosis July 2. I still cant believe it sometimes! Everyone was shocked including my GP.
Sometimes still sit back over 2 months into this nightmare and wonder how did I even get here???
Like I was battling covid as nurse with my team and running myself down, working crazy long hours. just wishing for a day off and then boom! Cancer!
Benched on the side line.
Im now the patient!!!??????!!!!!!
How did that happen?
I still sometimes wake up and think things are normal and then I go to move or touch my body and its like nope.. this is real.
Im not in denial I just still cant believe it at times..
Hello and welcome
Kudos on your first post. And for asking for the doctor to check your breasts. So many people push their suspicions down and ignore them. Dealing with them sooner than later gives us the best chance at a good outcome.
A Lump In Your Breast
A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Lumps are often hard and painless, although some are painful. However, not all lumps are cancer. Benign breast conditions that can also cause lumps.
Still, its important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the better.
Testing For Proteins And Genes
The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.
The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.
Risk Factors You Can Change
Weight. Being overweight after menopause increases your odds.
Drinking alcohol.Alcohol is linked to breast cancer. Compared with nondrinkers, women who drink one alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk, and those who are moderate drinkers have about a 20% higher risk.
Hormone replacement therapy . Long-term use of estrogen and progesterone increases the risk of breast cancer. This risk seems to go away if you’ve stopped using them for 5 years or longer.
Being inactive. Your odds go up if you donât exercise.
Reproductive history. Having your first child after age 30 or never having a full-term pregnancy puts you at higher risk. So does not breastfeeding.
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Inheriting Certain Gene Changes
About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from gene changes passed on from a parent.
BRCA1 and BRCA2: The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. In normal cells, these genes help make proteins that repair damaged DNA. Mutated versions of these genes can lead to abnormal cell growth, which can lead to cancer.
- If you have inherited a mutated copy of either gene from a parent, you have a higher risk of breast cancer.
- On average, a woman with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation has up to a 7 in 10 chance of getting breast cancer by age 80. This risk is also affected by how many other family members have had breast cancer. ;
- Women with one of these mutations are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, as well as to have cancer in both breasts.
- Women with one of these gene changes also have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer and some other cancers.
- In the United States, BRCA mutations are more common in Jewish people of Ashkenazi origin than in other racial and ethnic groups, but anyone can have them.
Other genes: Other gene mutations can also lead to inherited breast cancers. These gene mutations are much less common, and most of them do not increase the risk of breast cancer as much as the BRCA genes.
Mutations in several other genes have also been linked to breast cancer, but these account for only a small number of cases.
Is There A Direct Link
A 2014 report from the Surgeon General evaluated available studies on the potential health consequences of smoking. It found sufficient evidence of potential ways in which smoking may cause breast cancer.
However, the report concluded that while the evidence is suggestive, its not enough to say that smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes breast cancer. More research is needed to establish a direct link between smoking and breast cancer.
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What Can You Do
Eat right and exercise to stay in control of your overall health. Monitoring your lifestyle choices now can help your body age stronger and healthier and can help you avoid breast cancer. Mainly, this is because an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to obesity.
More and more studies are pointing to obesitys role in breast cancer. As we gain weight, normal hormone levels are altered, which can cause a list of health problems, including breast cancer. So, keep your weight in check as a way to have power over your health and perhaps, in so doing, avoid a breast cancer diagnosis.
In all cases, I cant stress enough the benefit of breast cancer screening. This includes regular mammograms and breast self-exams. Were good at treating breast cancer, but we need to catch it early for the best outcomes.
Screening For Breast Cancer
Women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.
Women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are also eligible to receive free mammograms, however they do not receive an invitation to attend.
It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP, or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50.
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Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.;
If;your;cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.;
A Vaccine May Be Helpful
Patients diagnosed with DCIS may one day get a vaccine to help reduce their risk of developing an invasive breast cancer in the future, according to a 2016 study published in Clinical Cancer Research.
More clinical trials are underway, but researchers hope that a vaccine may be able to stimulate the immune system and keep early DCIS from progressing beyond the milk duct. If trials are successful, experts say it could eventually be an alternative to surgery and radiation for some patients.
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‘my Dog Found My Cancer’
I had just been to the ob-gyn for my annual check-up and breast exam, and got the ‘all okay.’ Soon after, my little dog Zoe climbed up on me and started pawing at a specific part of my breast. Little alarms went off in my head, telling me to pay attention. It was like a slow-motion movie. I pushed her off and thats when I found a little round BB-sized lump. After a mammogram that didnt show anything, and a sonogram that found the lump, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Its so important to listen to the messages our bodies are telling us.
Christine Egan, author of The Healthy Girls Guide to Breast Cancer, Bayport, New York
How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer
A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.
The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.
Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.
MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.
Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.
Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.
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Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Cannot Change
A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease, such as breast cancer. But having a risk factor, or even many, does not mean that you are sure to get the disease.
Some risk factors for breast cancer are things you cannot change, such as getting older or inheriting certain gene changes. These make your risk of breast cancer higher.
For information on other known and possible breast cancer risk factors, see: