Breast Cancer Prevention Patient Version
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Cancerprevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will reduce the burden of cancer and lower the number of deaths caused by cancer.
Cancer is not a single disease but a group of related diseases. Our genes, lifestyle, and the environment around us work together to increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer. Each persons cancer risk is made up of a combination of these factors.
Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. Forexample, both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for sometypes of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it doesnot mean that you will not get cancer.
Different ways to prevent cancer are being studied, including:
- Changing lifestyle or eating habits.
- Avoiding things known to cause cancer.
- Taking medicine to treat a precancerouscondition or to keep cancer from starting.
Understanding Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Several breast cancer risk assessment tools have been developed to help a woman estimate her chance of developing breast cancer. The best studied is the Gail model, which is available on the National Cancer Institutes website at www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool. After you enter some personal and family information, including race/ethnicity, the tool provides you with a 5-year and lifetime estimate of the risk of developing invasive breast cancer. Because it only asks for information about breast cancer in first-degree family members and does not include their ages at diagnosis, the tool works best at estimating risk in women without a strong inherited breast cancer risk. For some women, other ways of determining the risk of breast cancer may work better. For example, women with a strong family history of breast cancer risk should consider talking to a genetic counselor.
It is important to talk with your doctor about how to estimate your personal risk of breast cancer and to discuss risk-reducing or prevention options .
Breast Cancer And Genetic Testing
At the current time, testing is available for BRCA gene mutations, as well as mutations ATM, CDH1, CHEK2, MRE11A, MSH6, NBN, PALB2, PMS2, PTEN, RAD50, RAD51C, SEC23B, and TP53, with this area expected to expand dramatically in the near future.
Having these tests available, however, raises many questions. For example, who might have hereditary breast cancer and who should be tested? What should you do if you test positive for one of these genes?
Ideally, any testing should be done only with the guidance and help of a genetic counselor. There are two reasons for this.
One is that it can be devastating to learn that you carry a mutation that may increase your risk, and the guidance of someone who is aware of recommended management and screening is invaluable.
As noted earlier, some mutations confer a high risk and others a much lower risk. Some mutations might be of more concern earlier in life , whereas others might not require early screening. A genetic counselor can help you learn about what is currently recommended with regard to screening for your particular mutation while taking into account any other risk factors you might have.
The other reason genetic counseling is so important is that you may have a significant risk of developing breast cancer even if your tests are negative. There is much yet to learn, and a genetic counselor can help you look at your family history to see if you may carry a high risk despite negative testing, and plan screening accordingly.
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How Does Breast Cancer Start
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow out of control. Different kinds of breast cells develop into different . Most breast cancers begin in the breast ducts or lobules . These are known respectively as invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Other less common types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer and;ductal carcinoma in situ.
Though breast cancer is most common in women, men can develop it as well. A mans lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Effect On Black Women
Triple-negative cancers tend to be more aggressive and harder to treat. Black women are more likely to get this type of breast cancer than women in other racial groups.
There is also evidence that when chemotherapy is given, it is less effective in Black women. If there are genetic differences that explain the effect, personalized medicine might be able to address them eventually.
There are also non-biological factorssuch as lack of access to quality care, higher uninsurance rates, systemic racism, and the wealth gapthat delay diagnosis.
What this looks like in real life is that many Black women are seeking care when their cancer is in its later stage. Even when Black women seek care in a timely fashion, they may not get the same timely or high quality of care as White women. One study showed that Black women were 31% less likely to have surgery and 11% less likely to receive chemotherapy than White women.
More research is needed on the race-specific differences in tumor biology, treatment options, and environmental factors that impact the breast cancer course in Black women.
Fortunately, increasing inclusivity in research studies is a primary focus of scientific research, and we are beginning to see the fruits of that labor, as screening guidelines have been updated and the number of personalized treatments that Black women have access to has increased.;
Despite a recent decline in breast cancer rates, Black women are still dying from breast cancer at an alarming rate.
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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy becauseare different for everyone. Sometimes there is a palpable lump or tenderness. Very often, there is neither. Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage.
However, there are certain changes in the breast that may indicate breast cancer in both men and women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, its important to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize when changes occur and seek timely treatment. Know the facts and understand your risk factors for the disease, such as , by reviewing these frequently asked questions.
Breast Cancer: Risk Factors And Prevention
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
A risk factor is anything that increases a persons chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.
Most breast cancers are sporadic, meaning they develop from damage to a persons genes that occurs by chance after they are born. There is no risk of the person passing this gene on to their children, as the underlying cause of sporadic breast cancer is environmental factors.
Inherited breast cancers are less common, making up 5% to 10% of cancers. Inherited breast cancer occurs when gene changes called mutations are passed down within a family from parent to child. Many of those mutations are in tumor suppressor genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. These genes normally keep cells from growing out of control and turning into cancer. But when these cells have a mutation, it can cause them to grow out of control.
The following factors may raise a womans risk of developing breast cancer:
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What Other Gene Mutations Are Important In Hereditary Breast Cancer
In addition to the often talked about BRCA gene mutations, there are a significant number of other inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, it’s thought that;mutations in over 100 genes contribute to risk, and the number of non-BRCA gene mutations that raise breast cancer risk is expected to grow as our knowledge of the genetics of cancer increases.
In addition to BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, some of these include mutations in ATM, PALB2, PTEN, CDH1, CHEK2, TP53, STK11, PMS2, and more. Let’s look at how important these non-BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations are in familial breast cancer, and some of the characteristics of those more commonly found.
If A Loved One Declines Treatment
If someone you care about has chosen not to continue their cancer treatment, be as supportive as you can. She may have already been met with resistance from her doctors and those closest to her. If her mind is made up, it won’t help to add your voice to the debate.
If she is still struggling with her decision, offer to listen and help her sort through the options. Ask if she’d like you to join her at her next doctor’s appointment to help her get the answers she needs.
Speaking with a therapist yourself can help you cope with any feelings you are having about a loved one’s decision, which may range from shock to anger to sadness. This is all normal, but is something you will need to proactively work to overcome for everyone’s benefit.
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What Should I Eat To Prevent Breast Cancer
No foods have been shown to prevent breast cancer, but some foods may help lower your risk. For example, the Mediterranean diet has consistently been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.
Other anti-cancer foods you might want to add to your diet include:
- High-fiber foods like beans and lentils
- Soy and tofu
- Cruciferous vegetables like arugula, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
- Carotenoid vegetables like carrots and leafy greens
- Citrus fruits like lemons and grapefruit
- Berries like cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
- Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and trout
- Coffee or green tea
Surgery For High Risk Breast Cancer
Surgery to remove both breasts may be;a possible option for women at very high risk. This is known as a bilateral risk reducing mastectomy. Bilateral means both sides and mastectomy means removal of the breast.;
It is important you meet a genetic counsellor before you make a decision about having surgery. They will talk about your own personal risks and explain other options, for example screening for high risk women. Your surgeon;and specialist nurse will tell you about;the surgery. They will also talk about;your feelings and any concerns you may have.;
During the operation the surgeon removes as much breast tissue as possible but its not possible to remove it all. So, although surgery lowers your risk it does not go away completely.;
You may be able;to have breast reconstruction during the surgery, or at a later date. This is surgery to make new breasts using tissue from elsewhere in your body or implants.;
Choosing to have risk reducing surgery can be a difficult time for you and your family, so it is important to ask questions. Your doctors and nurses will support you when making your decisions and throughout your treatment.
Speak to your doctor if you have family members with breast cancer and you think you might be at risk of developing it.
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What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The following early signs and symptoms of breast cancer can happen with other conditions that are not cancer related.
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Weight Exercise And Breast Cancer Risk
Being overweight or obese raises the risk of breast cancer. This is very important after menopause. Excess fat can increase the body’s estrogen levels. It is also the main source of estrogen after menopause. Estrogen can cause the growth of breast cancer cells.
Women who are obese after menopause are 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. Gaining more than 22 pounds after menopause raises the risk of breast cancer by 18 percent.
To find out if you are overweight,;calculate your body mass index;. BMI is based on your height and weight. Your BMI should be between 18 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. If your BMI is higher than 30, you are considered obese.
Exercise and weight loss can help women who are overweight or obese lower their risk of breast cancer. Obese women who are able to lose at least 22 pounds after menopause can lower their breast cancer risk by 57 percent.
Talk with your clinician if you have questions about your ideal body weight and your BMI. Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise plan or diet to find out what plan is best for you.
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Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Do you know the stage of the cancer?
- If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
- Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
- Based on the stage of the cancer, how long do you think Ill live?
- Do you know if my cancer has any of these proteins: estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or the HER2 protein?
- What does it mean if my cancer has any of these proteins?
- What will happen next?
There are many ways to treat breast cancer.
Surgery and radiation are used to treat cancer in a specific part of the body . They do not affect the rest of the body.
Chemotherapy, hormone treatment,;targeted therapy, and immunotherapy drugs go through the whole body. They can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body.
Doctors often use more than one;treatment for breast cancer. The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The cancer’s stage and grade
- If the cancer has specific proteins, like the HER2 protein or hormone receptors
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your age
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
Breast Cancer Prevention Tips For Women
Its that time of year again. Pumpkin spice is everywhere, the leaves are crunching underfoot and the geese are flying for warmer weather. As you look around, you will also see pink everywhere on NFL players, on packages in stores and on light posts on Main Street:; October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States.;In Western New York, we know that women here get breast cancer at rates higher than the rest of the state and the country at large.;Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center encourages women to get mammograms every year starting at age 40. Mammograms lead to earlier diagnosis, which allows for the best possible chance at recovery and cure, and it sometimes allows for less extensive surgery and treatment.
Some women might read this and ask, Ok, I get my mammogram, but what else can I do?
Thats an important question.;Everyone is at risk for developing cancer, but a lot of the risk factors tied to breast cancer are not things we can change. For example, getting older and being a woman are two key risk factors. Although luck and genetics also play a role, a growing body of research strongly suggests that by making healthy choices, you can decrease your cancer risk.
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However, there are some things that women can do to lower their risk of breast cancer:
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Dont Wait For Symptoms To Appearget Screened
Screening for breast cancer can seem scary, but the sooner its found, the sooner it can be treated and the better your odds for remission. From ages 25-39, talk with your health care professional at least once every three years for risk assessment, risk reduction counseling and a clinical breast exam. At age 40, begin getting screened annually.
If you have a personal family history or are at increased risk of breast cancer, all of this could be different for you. Talk to your health care professional about your risk and assess your options together.
Not sure which exam or screening is right for you? Check out 4 breast cancer screening tests you should know about.
How Not To Get Breast Cancer From Your Salad
If you were alive between the 1940s and the early 1970s, you were almost certainly exposed to the infamously poisonous agricultural pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT.
The problem with pesticides like DDT, known as organochlorine compounds, is that they dont just go away. Depending upon when you were exposed, theres a decent chance that DDT is still in your body.
The United States banned the use of DDT in 1972 when it was proven to be an endocrine-disrupting chemical that can mimic estrogen and activate gene mutations that cause breast cancer.
Since then, other pesticides and weed killers have taken their place. Atrazine, a weed killer, and malathion, an insecticide, are still widely used in farming and agriculture.
Yet both of these chemicals have been linked with the formation of mammary gland tumors in mice.
And yes, in case youre wondering, theres evidence that they have the same effect on humans.
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