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How Do Women Get Breast Cancer

Breast Size And Body Weight In Relation To Breast Cancer

Why Do Women Get Breast Cancer?

The simple truth is that there have been no large, peer-reviewed studies that support breast size as a factor in the development of breast cancer. While there has been some research suggesting a link, there have been just as many which have drawn the opposite conclusion.

With that being said, we do know that obesity plays a significant role in the development of breast cancer and that obese women typically have larger breasts than the average woman. So while this might suggest that big-breasted women are at risk, it appears that weight is more of a factor than actual breast size.

How Does Your Age Affect Fertility

In your 20s, 30s, and even early 40s, you may be thinking about starting a family or adding to an existing one. Breast cancer treatment can affect your fertility. Both chemotherapy and radiation can damage cells in your ovaries that produce healthy eggs. This damage can make it harder for you to get pregnant.

Hormone therapies such as tamoxifen can make your periods come less often or stop entirely. This can also stop you from getting pregnant. Sometimes, the damage to your fertility is temporary. You may be able to get pregnant after your treatment ends. In other cases, this damage is permanent.

Some breast cancer treatments affect your desire to have sex. They can dampen your sex drive or make you feel too nauseous or tired to be intimate. Having cancer can be so emotionally overwhelming that you find it hard to connect with your partner physically.

If you know you want to have a family, talk to a fertility specialist about your options before starting treatment. One option is to freeze your eggs or fertilized embryos and store them until youve finished treatment. You can also take a drug such as leuprolide or goserelin . These drugs shut down your ovaries during chemotherapy treatment to protect them from damage.

Money And Financial Support

If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.

If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:

  • if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
  • if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
  • if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
  • you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income

Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.

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What’s The Best Way For Younger Women To Screen For Breast Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women know how their breasts look and feel;and report any changes to their doctor. The ACS states that research has not shown a clear benefit of performing regular breast self-exams.; Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of breast self-exam.

Regular breast exams done at least every 3 years by your doctor are recommended for women beginning at age 20. Expert groups dont all agree when women should start getting mammograms and you should discuss with your doctor whats right for you. The U.S.;Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every 2 years from ages 50 through 74 and also that the decision to start yearly screening mammograms before age 50 should be an individual one..

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin to have mammograms. For younger women, digital mammography may be an alternate to a standard mammogram. Digital mammography is better able to see abnormalities in dense breast tissue.

What Causes Ovarian Cancer

Breast Examination by Your Doctor

We dont yet know exactly what causes most ovarian cancers. As discussed in Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors, we do know some factors that make a woman more likely to develop epithelial ovarian cancer. Much less is known about risk factors for germ cell and stromal tumors of the ovaries.

The most recent and important finding about the cause of ovarian cancer is that it starts in cells at the tail ends of the fallopian tubes and not necessarily in the ovary itself. This new information may open more research studies looking at preventing and screening for this type of cancer.;

There are many theories about the causes of ovarian cancer. Some of them came from looking at the things that change the risk of ovarian cancer. For example, pregnancy and taking birth control pills both lower the risk of ovarian cancer. Since both of these things reduce the number of times the ovary releases an egg , some researchers think that there may be some relationship between ovulation and the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Also, we know that tubal ligation and hysterectomy lower the risk of ovarian cancer. One theory to explain this is that some cancer-causing substances may enter the body through the vagina and pass through the uterus and fallopian tubes to reach the ovaries. This would explain how removing the uterus or blocking the fallopian tubes affects ovarian cancer risk.

Another theory is that male hormones can cause ovarian cancer.

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Breast Cancer Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease, such as cancer. Most women who have one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop the disease, while many women with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors . Even when a woman with risk factors develops breast cancer, it is hard to know just how much these factors may have contributed to her cancer.

There are different kinds of risk factors. Some factors, like a person’s age or race, can’t be changed. Others are linked to cancer-causing factors in the environment. Still others are to related personal behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and diet. Some factors influence risk more than others, and your risk for breast cancer can change over time, due to factors such as aging or lifestyle.

Studies have found the following risk factors for breast cancer:

Your Personal History Of Breast Cancer

If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, you are more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is not considered a recurrence but a new breast cancer.

What to do: Follow your cancer teams instructions on monitoring to stay on top of this risk. Ask your doctor whether you should see a genetic counselor.

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Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression

In women who haven’t;experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries. Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.

Ablation can be carried out using surgery or radiotherapy. It;stops the ovaries working permanently and means you’ll experience the menopause early.

Ovarian suppression involves using a medication called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist . Your periods will stop while you’re taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.

If you’re;approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.

Goserelin is taken as an injection once a month and can cause menopausal side effects, including:

  • hot flushes and sweats

The Thresholds For Requesting Follow

How do I check for breast cancer with implants?

It can be a challenge for radiologists to find a reasonable cutoff point in deciding whether a 6 month follow-up diagnostic mammogram is necessary. Secondly specialists must decide whether a biopsy is more appropriate, or not.

Generally speaking, if the first screening mammography results are highly suggestive of malignancy, then a core-needle biopsy should probably be the next step.

When the initial mammogram reveals an abnormality that is probably benign, then additional imaging is generally useful to help to decide whether to biopsy or not.

Specifically, the radiologist will want to determine whether the lesion is a solid mass or a cyst. In addition, the radiologist will also want to take a closer look at the margins. If all indications of the second imaging studies are for a benign or likely benign lesion, then subsequent follow up imaging studies in about 6 months is probably a reasonable approach, without the necessity of a biopsy.

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Are Women Under 40 At Risk For Breast Cancer

Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer. However, breast cancer can strike at any age: 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age. All women should be aware of their personal risk factors for breast cancer.

There are several factors that put a woman at higher risk for developing breast cancer, including:

  • A personal history of breast cancer or a high risk lesion found by biopsy
  • A family history of breast cancer, particularly at an early age
  • A family history that is concerning for a genetic syndrome that may put them at a higher risk for breast cancer
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest
  • A known genetic mutation conferring a high risk for the development of breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry

Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Most breast lumps aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor. You should also see your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge from either of your nipples;
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain alone isn’t a symptom of breast cancer.

Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer

After examining your breasts, your GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests.;This might include a mammography ;or a biopsy.

Read more about;breast screening;and;how breast cancer is diagnosed

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How Is Breast Cancer Treated

If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.

The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.

Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.

Avoid Birth Control Pills Particularly After Age 35 Or If You Smoke

Breast Cysts

Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer not to mention unwanted pregnancy so theres also a lot in its favor. If youre very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.

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Inherited Versus Acquired Dna Mutations

Normal breast cells become cancer because of changes in DNA. DNA is the chemical in our cells that makes up our genes. Genes have the instructions for how our cells function.

Some DNA mutations are inherited or passed to you from your parents. This means the mutations are in all your cells when you are born.;Some mutations can greatly increase the risk of certain cancers. They cause many of the cancers that run in some families and often cause cancer when people are younger.

But most DNA mutations linked to breast cancer are acquired. This means the change takes place in breast cells during a person’s life rather than having been inherited or born with them. Acquired DNA mutations take place over time and are only in the breast cancer cells.

Mutated DNA can lead to mutated genes. Some genes control when our cells grow, divide into new cells, and die. Changes in these genes can cause the cells to lose normal control and are linked to cancer.

Taking Charge: Who Gets Breast Cancer

There are no rules about who gets this disease. The two most significant risk factors are being a woman, and increasing age. However, there are other factors that may increase your risk, and some that may lower it.

The development of breast cancer may be influenced by factors that affect the levels of female hormones that circulate in your body throughout life. These factors include the age when you began your menstrual period, the number of times you have been pregnant, your age at first pregnancy, whether you have breastfed your children, and your level of physical activity.

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Your Genes Play A Huge Role

There are certain genes that help lower the risk of breast cancer and many other types of cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2, when they are normal, act as tumor suppressors, preventing the cells from dividing rapidly and aggressively. However, there could be an alteration in these genes, a mutation, that could make them act abnormally and increase the risk of developing cancer rather than suppress it.

There has been a myth that older women are the only ones at risk of developing breast tumors. However, young women are also at risk. While old age does contribute to higher risk, the aforementioned predisposing factors and genetic mutations could make a younger woman more vulnerable.

Tamoxifen And Raloxifene For Women At High Risk

Why do you get Breast Cancer?

Although not commonly thought of as a healthybehavior, taking the prescription drugs tamoxifenand raloxifene can significantly lower the risk ofbreast cancer in woman at high risk of the disease.Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention,these powerful drugs can have side effects, sothey arent right for everyone. If you think youreat high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.

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Find Out Your Family History

Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so its important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer or if you have multiplefamily members who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.

Develop A Relationship With Your Breasts

Every woman should develop a special connection with her breasts such that if anything seems out of place, she would know. In other words, know your breasts, know what the healthy norm of your body feels like and be aware of any unusual discomfort.

Sadly, most of us are not that connected to our own bodies nowadays. You will be surprised by how little the majority of women know about their breasts, down to their correct bra size; in fact, you are probably wearing the wrong bra size right now. Dont sweat it though, you just need to find access to a bra fitting specialist. You can find them at lingerie stores, more than willing to help you choose the right size for you.

It is recommended that every woman, starting the age of sixteen, perform a self-breast examination every month; especially a few days after their menstruation when the breasts are less sensitive. This is done either in bed or while standing in front of a mirror. You put one hand above your head and use the other hand to examine your breast and check for lumps, abnormal discharge, or unusual sensitivity.

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What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer

The most common types of breast cancer are:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This cancer starts in the milk ducts of the breast. It then breaks through the wall of the duct and invades the surrounding tissue in the breast. This is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for 80% of cases.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ is ductal carcinoma in its earliest stage, or precancerous . In situ refers to the fact that the cancer hasn’t spread beyond its point of origin. In this case, the disease is confined to the milk ducts and has not invaded nearby breast tissue. If untreated, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer. It is almost always curable.
  • Infiltrating lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins in the lobules of the breast where breast milk is produced, but has spread to surrounding tissues in the breast. It accounts for 10 to 15% of breast cancers. This cancer can be more difficult to diagnose with mammograms.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ is a marker for cancer that is only in the lobules of the breast. It isn’t a true cancer, but serves as a marker for the increased risk of developing breast cancer later, possibly in both or either breasts. Thus, it is important for women with lobular carcinoma in situ to have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

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