What Are Breast Cancer Risk Factors How Do You Get Breast Cancer
Several risk factors are inconclusive , while in other areas, the risk is being even more clearly defined .
The following are risk factors for breast cancer:
Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
Be Aware Of Your Breasts To Detect Breast Cancer Symptoms Early
Studies show that regular breast self-exams are not the best way to detect breast cancer early.
What does work? Being aware of how your breasts look and feel and seeing a doctor as soon as you notice changes or abnormalities.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found during daily activities like showering, applying deodorant or even scratching, says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center.
Bevers advises women to see a doctor if they have one or more symptoms of breast cancer, no matter how mild they may seem.
You dont need to wait for any particular size or severity of symptoms to get checked out, she says. “The earlier that breast cancer is detected, the better our chances of treating it successfully.”
And you shouldnt ignore symptoms just because you breasts don’t hurt. Pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer, she says.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found during daily activitieslike showering, applying deodorant or even scratching.
Therese Bevers, M.D.
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The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is typically associated with women and understanding the various parts of the breast and their functions helps people to be more aware of any changes or abnormalities. Therefore, in this article I will be stating the warning signs of breast cancer and what you should do if you spot one or more of these warning signs.
What is a Normal Breast?
It should be noted that no breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Some people say their breast is uneven or feels lumpy. So, the way your breasts feel and look may be as a result of your period, having children, losing or gaining weight and taking certain medications. Also, breasts change as you age.
When you Feel Breast Pain or Lump: Is It Cancer?
When you feel a sharp pain in your breast possibly with some tenderness, it may have you wondering if it could be something serious. Breast lump is often the first thing that women and even men notice which triggers a visit to the doctor.
Although, breast cancer generally shows no symptoms in the early stage but here are the few signs to help you identify it.
- Lumps inside the breast or under arm area
- Changes in the breast size and shape
- Pain in a specific area that does not go away
- Prominent veins on the surface of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- A sore or rash on the nipple
- Swelling, redness or darkening of the breast
- Dimpling of the skin on the breast
- Inversion of the nipple or other parts of the breast.
What Does Breast Cancer Look Like
Much like snowflakes, no two breasts are alike , symptoms of breast cancer can vary across individuals, some people dont even have any symptoms of breast cancer. This is one of the many reasons its important to know what is normal for your body. Many bumps are lumpy, but not all lumps are breast cancer . By regularly performing a breast self exam , you will be more familiar with what is typical for your breasts and it will be easier to detect if something has changed.
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Some Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer Are:
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness, scaliness, pitting or thickening of the skin or nipple
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Spontaneous nipple discharge , including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Red skin or an area that feels hot
- Pain in any area of the breast that continues over time
If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a clinical examination.
Your Breast Is Changing Colors
Another symptom of inflammatory breast cancer is when your breast skin turns pink or reddish on more than half the breastsomething that can be hard to tell in those with darker skin tones. “Sometimes these changes in coloration can be difficult to find in African Americans and in obese patients with very large breasts,” Ricardo H. Alvarez, MD, leads the Breast Cancer Center Institute at Cancer Treatment Centers of America , said on the CTCA website. And for harmful habits you should be aware of, check out 30 Things You Had No Idea Could Cause Cancer.
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What Role Does The Brca Gene Test Have In Breast Cancer
The BRCA gene test analyses DNA to look for harmful mutations in two breast cancer genes . This test is performed as a routine blood test. The test should only be performed on patients who have specific types of breast cancers or have a family history suggesting the possibility of having an inherited mutation. These mutations are uncommon, and inherited BRCA gene mutations are responsible for about 10% of breast cancers.
Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods
Women who experience regular periods may want to consult their healthcare provider if they experience vaginal bleeding or spotting outside of their usual cycle. Irregular vaginal bleeding may indicate endometrial or cervical cancers.
Women who have gone through menopause should seek immediate medical attention if they have any vaginal bleeding.
Women should consider seeking immediate medical attention if they experience spotting alongside the following symptoms:
Certain warning signs of cancer occur exclusively or more frequently in men than women. These can include:
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There’s Dimpling On Your Breast Skin
Noticing some dimpling in the skin of one of your breasts might not seem like a big deal, but it could be a sign of breast cancer, says the Mayo Clinic. The issuewhich is called peau d’ orange, due to its resemblance of the texture of an orange peelcould be a sign of a more invasive type of breast cancer.
A Change In The Breast Or Nipple Appearance
- Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling anywhere on the breast
- Unexplained swelling of the breast
- Unexplained shrinkage of the breast
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts. Although it is common for women to have one breast that is slightly larger than the other, if the onset of asymmetry is recent, it should be checked.
- Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted
- Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple that becomes scaly, red, or swollen or may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange
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What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer
Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer.
By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.
Breast Or Nipple Pain
Breast cancer can cause changes in skin cells that lead to feelings of pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast. Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.
Some people may describe the pain as a burning sensation.
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When To Get Checked For Breast Cancer
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you’re having pain at times other than the start of your menstrual cycle, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting a mammogram. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist, who will typically examine you and then refer you for a mammogram. The American Cancer Society advises women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years or can continue yearly screening.
Mammograms effectively detect 84% of breast cancers so when you’re given a clean bill of health you can set your mind at ease. If your mammogram detects a suspicious mass, you can be evaluated further. If you do have breast cancer, you can expect a better outcome, because the earlier cancer treatment begins, the better the patient outcomes usually are. If you live in Virginia or North Carolina and want to be examined by a breast cancer specialist, contact us at Virginia Oncology Associates. We have locations throughout the state of Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina.
When To See A Doctor
Early forms of cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms. Several of the warning signs of cancer in this article are non-specific symptoms that can have many other conditions as the cause.
However, people should not wait to get medical attention. Early diagnosis can lead to early, more effective treatment.
The National Cancer Institute recommend that people see a healthcare provider if symptoms last longer than 2 weeks.
People should speak with a healthcare provider about any new or worsening symptoms, especially if they have a family history of cancer or have certain factors that increase their risk of cancer.
People should seek immediate medical attention if symptoms interfere with their daily lives.
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Signs Of Colorectal Cancer
“Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer is so important,” says the CDC. “If you have symptoms, they may include
- A change in bowel habits.
- Blood in or on your stool .
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way.
- Abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away.
- Losing weight and you don’t know why.
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer. The only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.”
“Ovarian cancer may cause the following signs and symptoms,” says the CDC:
- “Vaginal bleeding , or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area.
- Abdominal or back pain.
- Feeling full too quickly, or difficulty eating.
- A change in your bathroom habits, such as more frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation.
Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you. If you have unusual vaginal bleeding, see a doctor right away. If you have any of the other signs for two weeks or longer and they are not normal for you, see a doctor.”
Looking Out For Breast Changes
As well as having your screening mammogram every two years, its important you regularly check your breasts for any changes.
Youll need to get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts, so that you can identify an unusual change. To check for changes, look at and feel your breasts regularly. Here are the signs to watch out for:
If youre aged 50-74, you should still have your regular screening mammogram in addition to checking your breasts even if you feel ok and dont have any symptoms.
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Surprising Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
For American women, breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer after skin cancer. On average, one in eight women and one in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
Thanks to breast cancer awareness initiatives launched by charities including Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, most U.S. women and men know that if they, or a loved one, discover a lump in their breast, they should be screened for breast cancer. You may be surprised to learn theres a type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer, accounting for less than 5% of all cases, that doesnt develop a lump. Instead, this type of cancer blocks the lymph vessels, causing fluids to back up and generating unusual symptoms including persistent breast itching, nipple discharge, and a mark that looks like an insect bite that doesnt go away.
Signs And Symptoms Of Different Types Of Breast Cancers In Women And Men
Breast cancer isnt always associated with having a lump in your breast. This is why it is so important to know what the early signs and symptoms are, as well as to get your annual mammogram. Catching cancer early can mean better or more treatment options. So whether you have a family history or not, here are the warning signs and symptoms you should be paying attention to.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men
Possible symptoms of breast cancer to watch for include:
- A lump or swelling, which is often painless
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.
These changes aren’t always caused by cancer, but if you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Burstein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M. Ch. 79 – Malignant tumors of the breast. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’sCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.
Morrow M. Chapter 3: Physical Exam of the Breast. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health 2014.
Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE et al. Ch 91 – Cancer of the Breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier: 2014.
Last Revised: April 27, 2018
Things You Might Not Know About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. In Ontario, breast cancer happens mostly in women ages 50 to 74 . Regular breast cancer screening is important because it can find cancer early when it may be smaller and easier to treat.
Limiting alcohol can reduce your risk. A healthy lifestyle, including limiting alcohol, can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Other factors that may lower a womans chance of getting breast cancer are not smoking or using tobacco products, having a healthy body weight, and being physically fit.
Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates out of all of the cancers in Ontario. Studies show that regular mammograms lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74. Deaths from breast cancer in the Ontario population went down by about 47 percent in women ages 50 to 74 from 1990 to 2013. This decrease in deaths is probably due to improvements in breast cancer treatment and more women getting screened.
Changes in the breast are not always signs of cancer. All women regardless of age or risk factors should be breast aware. This means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel so you can tell if there are changes.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this important topic. Although October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, please keep it top of mind all year long.
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