Menstrual And Reproductive History
The menstrual cycle increases levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Starting menstrual periods at a younger age or going through menopause at a later age raises the bodys exposure to these hormones, which can increase a persons risk of breast cancer.
Those who start their menstrual period before the
to prevent miscarriage. Women who took this drug while pregnant and any children they gave birth to have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Cell Growth
Cancer begins when there are genetic changes, called mutations, in a normal breast cell. These changes happen in genes that control the growth of the cell. These changes may occur over a long period of time, even decades, before a cancer cell forms.
These tumor cells multiply and divide exponentially, meaning that one cell becomes two, two cells become four, and so on. That’s why a tumor size will increase more rapidly, the larger it becomes.
That said, not all cells are dividing at the same time. The cancer’s growth can change at different stages as a tumor forms. Compared with many types of cancer, breast cancer has a “low growth fraction.” This means that the proportion of cancer cells that are in an active cell cycle is low.
Some tumors, such as lymphomas and some leukemias, have much higher growth fractions. They may be active for a much shorter period of time before they are detected, even in children.
Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Breast Cancer
Understanding breast cancer risk factors, knowing your personal risk of developing breast cancer, and recognizing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer can help women seek the care that they need, when they need it.
Take our Breast Cancer Risk Quiz to learn more about your personal risk. The quiz takes less than one minute to complete.
If you are 40 years or older, schedule a mammogram. The Breast Center along with The American Medical Association, The American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the Society of Breast Imaging, and the National Cancer Institute recommend that women start getting a screening mammogram every year starting at age 40.
You dont have to wait until youre 40 to talk to your doctor about breast cancer, though. Meet with the specialists at the Breast Center if you have questions or concerns about breast cancer or breast health. Request an appointment online or call 479-442-6266.
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Breast Cancer Diagnosed During Or After Pregnancy
Being pregnant at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer has been associated with a worse outcome. In one study of 797 such cases, compared with 4,177 non-pregnancy-associated breast cancer controls, women diagnosed while pregnant had larger, more advanced tumors, a greater incidence of receptor-negative tumors, and a higher death rate . A smaller study found no association between pregnancy and increased mortality. In contrast, pregnancy and childbirth following a diagnosis of breast cancer do not increase mortality, and actually may improve survival. One study found that 438 women age < 45 years at diagnosis, who delivered a child 10 or more months following a diagnosis of breast cancer, had a decreased relative risk of death , compared to women who did not bear children following diagnosis. Women who were pregnant at the time they were diagnosed had a mortality rate similar to the latter group. This suggests that childbirth following breast cancer diagnosis does not increase mortality.
Who Is At Risk For Inherited Breast Cancer
Your risk may be increased if your relative developed breast cancer at a young age or if the relative is very closely related, like a mother, sister or daughter, Ninan says. Having a family history of early onset breast cancer in close relatives may be a reason to look into genetic testing.
A comprehensive breast center has experienced breast specialists who can help clarify what course of action might be best for you, she says.
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Who Should Be Tested For Genetic Breast Cancer Risk
Ninans recommendation to anyone who suspects he or she might be carrying a gene that increases cancer risk: Start with genetic counseling.
Deciding to undergo the testing is a big decision, and not an easy choice to make. It is important to consider the potential impact of test results on your well-being, your career, your family and other aspects of your life, she explains.
Knowing the results could affect your health and affect other family members, including your siblings and children. For instance, someone with a genetic mutation has about a 50% chance of passing that trait to his or her children.
Ninan says the guidelines for who should be tested change over time, but in general, your doctor might want to discuss gene testing with you if:
- Someone in your family has tested positive for carrying a mutated gene.
- You are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
- You were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50.
- A man in your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- You were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
- There are multiple breast cancers on one side of your family.
- You or a relative has had cancer diagnosed in both breasts.
What To Do If You Have Breast Cancer
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can feel crippling and life-altering for both patients and their families. With 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, it’s unfortunately a common diagnosis to face. For many women diagnosed with breast cancer, what happens next may be a mystery. Taking time to understand the diagnosis and weigh the options is crucial in receiving the necessary treatment.
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Breast Cancer Doubling Time
An important way to think about how fast a breast cancer grows is by looking at what’s called the volume doubling time. Growth rate is a part of tumor doubling time, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is the amount of time it takes for a tumor to double in size.
It would be unethical to leave a cancer untreated to see how rapidly it will grow, so researchers estimate the doubling time. However, when looking at these models, it becomes clear that doubling time estimates vary from study to study.
A 2018 study estimated doubling time by looking at serial ultrasounds in 265 people with invasive breast cancer to see if there were differences among breast cancer subtypes. These images were taken between diagnosis and surgery. The results suggest that growth varied significantly based on the breast cancer subtype and the role of estrogen receptors in those subtypes.
During an average interval of 57 days, 36% of tumors did not change in size, while 64% grew. Of those tumors that increased in size, the average gain in volume was 34.5%. Tumors that were triple negative had greater increases in volume and shorter doubling times than those that were estrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative tumors.
A similar 2016 study looked at growth in 323 people, based on ultrasound images taken between diagnosis and surgery over a 31 day period, On average, the tumors grew from 1.47 centimeters to 1.56 cm in diameter. The daily growth rate based on type was:
Disability Benefits And Breast Cancer
You may be able to claim the following disability benefits:
- Personal Independence Payment a benefit for people who struggle with daily tasks or mobility. You may be able to claim PIP if you have breast cancer and are aged over 16 and under state retirement age.
- Attendance Allowance a benefit for people over state retirement age who have difficulty looking after themselves because of an illness or disability. You dont have to be receiving care to qualify for this benefit.
Both Attendance Allowance and PIP are tax free and non-means tested. Non-means tested benefits dont take into account your income and savings. Attendance Allowance and PIP can be paid on top of almost all other benefits. If you are awarded Attendance Allowance or PIP you may be entitled to extra benefits as a result.
Many people with secondary breast cancer are entitled to PIP or Attendance Allowance.
An additional mobility component can also be paid as part of PIP if you have problems planning and going on journeys or moving around. If you are approaching state retirement age it is important to begin the claim before then, as there is no mobility component in Attendance Allowance. Neither benefit can be backdated.
For more information on these benefits, see the gov.uk website.
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How Do I Avoid A Misdiagnosis
Patients should always stay informed about their health and know what age-based screening tests are required, as well as what screenings they should have based on various risk factors. It is also important to be direct with your doctor and communicate any symptoms you may have that could be a sign of breast cancer, and make sure your concerns are taken seriously and addressed.
Understanding A Breast Cancer Diagnosis
When being diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important for patients and their loved ones to take time to process the situation above all else. Although time may be of the essence, it’s important that patients enter their treatment journey with a clear head to ensure that every decision is made with their best interest in mind. Coming to terms with a diagnosis is a critical step in the process.
HER2 refers to the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, a gene that can play a role in breast cancer development. The gene controls how breast cells grow, divide, and repair themselves, making overproduction a potential red flag for breast cancer.
Patients and their families should also bring any questions or concerns to a doctor as soon as possible, especially if they relate to treatment options. A doctor should provide information regarding the type of cancer, the HER2 status, and its stage during the first appointment, so patients and families can begin to make a plan to move forward. Patients should feel comfortable asking questions about where the cancer is located, long-term outlook, and next steps. Having these conversations as quickly as possible and implementing a treatment plan will give the patient the best chance of survival, as diagnoses often worsen when left untreated.
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Can A Woman With Breast Cancer Get Pregnant
For young women, a breast cancer diagnosis also creates uncertainty about having a family. Because cancer treatments can affect ovarian function, specialists with expertise in working with women with cancer can help preserve fertility before treatment begins by freezing eggs or embryos, through a process called cryopreservation. In Connecticut, insurance carriers cover the cost of cryopreservation for men and women under the age of 40 who have cancer.
It also may happen that a young woman is already pregnant when diagnosed with breast cancer, which requires careful conversations between the provider and patient.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer we see in pregnant women, says Dr. Silber. Because pregnancy brings about a variety of changes in the breastand pregnant women arent getting mammogramsit may make the disease harder to diagnose, she notes, but it doesnt mean the prognosis is worse.
In such cases, she explains, Our goal is to do what we can to treat the cancer and protect the pregnancy, adding that there are some types of chemotherapy treatments that can be given during pregnancy to treat breast cancer.
Could You Have Breast Cancer At Age 13
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How Do I Know If Medical Malpractice Is To Blame For My Misdiagnosis
If you think your breast cancer was misdiagnosed as a result of malpractice, consider scheduling a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases. They should be able to determine if you are qualified and can give you more information about the process based on your individual case.
What Are The Signs Of Breast Cancer
A woman who has breast cancer may have no problems, or she may find a painless lump in her breast. If women examine their breasts monthly, they can help find lumps or other changes that a doctor should examine.
Most breast lumps are not cancer, but all lumps should be checked out by a doctor to be sure. Breast lumps that are not cancer may be scar tissue or cysts or they can be due to normal breast changes associated with hormone changes or aging.
Girls who are beginning puberty might notice a lump underneath the nipple when their breasts start developing. Usually, this is a normal. You can ask a parent or your doctor about it to be sure.
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Related Resources That Might Be Useful:
Young Survival Coalition an organisation dedicated to critical issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer resources, connections, support
The Lavender Trust The Lavender Trust provides information and support for younger women with breast cancer
Breast Cancer Org dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer. Our mission is to help women and their loved ones make sense of the complex medical and personal information about breast health and breast cancer, so they can make the best decisions for their lives
Breast Cancer Care UK support for women with breast cancer in the UK
Breast Cancer Haven free practical, emotional and physical support for the individual and the family, absolutely non hospital environment, e.g. supportive therapy
CoppaFeel! straight from their About Us on their website:Were here to help everyone stand the best possible chance of surviving breast cancer by educating you on the importance of getting to know your boobs!
When To Start Breast Self
Health experts advise women to begin breast self-exams by the age of 20. Women should have a clinical breast exam by a physician every three years until the age of 40. After the age of 40, women should have a clinical breast exam and mammogram every year. It is recommended that women do a breast self-exam about a week after the first day of their period, when breasts are no longer swollen and tender due to hormonal fluctuations.
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Types Of Breast Cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.
Breast cancer is often divided into either:
- non-invasive breast cancer found in the ducts of the breast which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
- invasive breast cancer where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
- invasive lobular breast cancer
- inflammatory breast cancer
It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.
If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.
At What Age Should I Start Getting Mammograms
Because young women typically have dense breast tissue, a mammogram is not always the best diagnostic tool for them. For this reason, and because dense breasts also make it more difficult to feel a lump, it is crucial that women aged 20 and older become familiar with their breasts and learn how to spot any unusual changes. Current guidelines call for annual screening mammograms to begin at age 45 or 50. If you have a family history of the disease, consult your doctor about when you should start having mammograms and how frequently you should have them. For more information, read our position paper on the new mammography guidelines.
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Who Should Get Screened
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that females aged 5074 years who are at average risk of developing breast cancer should go for screening every 2 years.
Those aged 4049 years, particularly those with a higher risk of breast cancer, should speak to their doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing regular screening.
Doctors tend to use a mammogram to screen people for breast cancer. A mammogram is a breast X-ray that can help detect breast cancer early on, before it starts to produce symptoms.
Other exams available for people at a higher risk of breast cancer include:
There are both risks and benefits associated with regularly screening for breast cancer. Many people conclude that the benefits outweigh the risks, but getting screened is a personal decision.
The risks of screening for breast cancer include:
- False positives: A false positive occurs when a test result falsely suggests that a person has cancer. False positives can prompt additional tests, which may cause anxiety and can be expensive and time consuming.
- Overtreatment: Some cancers are benign and do not go on to cause symptoms or other problems. Treating these types of cancers is called overtreatment, and it can lead to unnecessary side effects, expense, and anxiety.
- False negatives: A false negative occurs when a test result misses the presence of a cancer. False negatives can delay diagnosis and treatment.