Can I Lower My Risk Of Getting A Second Cancer
Theres no sure way to prevent all cancers, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk and stay as healthy as possible. Getting the recommended early detection tests, as mentioned above, is one way to do this.
Its also important to stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of many cancers, including some of the second cancers seen after breast cancer.
To help maintain good health, breast cancer survivors should also:
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The Importance Of Absolute Risk To Relative Risk
The impact of a relative risk depends on the underlying absolute risk of a disease.
- When a disease is rare , a high relative risk leads to only a few extra cases among those with the risk factor.
- When a disease is more common , even a small relative risk can lead to many more cases among those with the risk factor.
We can think about relative risk in terms of money.
If you only have one dollar, this makes dollars rare. If you double your money, you only gain one extra dollar.
But, if you have one million dollars, this makes dollars common and doubling your money means you gain one million extra dollars.
In both cases, you double your money, but the increase in dollars is quite different.
The same is true with disease risk. The higher the absolute risk of getting a disease, the greater the number of extra cases that will occur for a given relative risk.
Relative Risks Greater Than 1
A relative risk between 1 and 1.99 may be presented in several ways.
For example, in the exercise study above, the relative risk was 1.25.
You may see:
- Inactive women have a relative risk of 1.25 compared to active women.
- Inactive women have a 25 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to active women.
- Inactive women have a 1.25-fold increased risk of breast cancer compared to active women.
When a relative risk is 2 or more, its often presented as the number of times the risk is increased.
For example, women with atypical hyperplasia have a relative risk of about 4 compared to women without atypical hyperplasia.
You may see:
- Women with atypical hyperplasia have 4 times the risk of breast cancer of women without atypical hyperplasia.
- Theres a 4-fold increase in the risk of breast cancer among women with atypical hyperplasia compared to women without atypical hyperplasia.
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Checking Yourself For Breast Cancer
Breast self-exams to check for lumps and other changes can help women detect the early signs of cancer.
Even more important than looking for specific changes is knowing how your breasts feel normally. A change in their shape or texture, a new lump, or other significant change could signal a problem, including cancer.
Women should also get regular breast exams from their doctor. Those at high risk of breast cancer may need annual mammograms, although teens almost never fall into this category.
Your Race And Ethnicity
Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American women, although the gap between them has been closing in recent years. In women under age 45, breast cancer is more common in African American women. African American women are also more likely to die from breast cancer at any age. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
Risk in different groups also varies by type of breast cancer. For example, African American women are more likely to have the less common triple-negative breast cancer.
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How Will My Prognosis Affect My Treatment
Following surgery or radiation, your treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with your surgeon, may advise the use of tamoxifen or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Breast Cancer And Your Risk
For readers interested in the PDF version, the document is available for downloading or viewing:
This brochure identifies biological as well as lifestyle factors associated with breast cancer. It offers information and advice to help you better understand and address them. It also identifies common misconceptions about breast cancer and includes helpful tips and useful website addresses to help you stay informed.
It is intended for women who:
- are 18 years of age or over and
- do not have breast cancer or any breast problems. You should report any changes in your breasts or concern you might have about your breasts to your doctor.
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What Happens If You Find Out Youre At Higher Risk
If you and your doctor determine that youre at a higher risk of breast cancer, you can decide together on next steps. Routine breast cancer screening is important for all women, but even more so for those at higher risk, so your doctor may suggest you get screened earlier and more often than other women.
You can also talk to your doctor about options for reducing your risk. Depending on your unique situation, your doctor may recommend either of the following:
- Risk-lowering drugs. Tamoxifen and raloxifene are the only drugs FDA-approved for breast cancer risk reduction in women at higher risk. Both are taken in pill form.
- Preventive surgery. For people with certain gene mutations, having surgery to remove their breasts may dramatically reduce their risk of breast cancer. Surgical removal of the ovaries can also reduce the risk of ovarian and possibly breast cancer for certain people.
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Example Of The Impact Of A Relative Risk
Using our example of the exercise study above, we can show how absolute risks affect the number of extra cases.
Inactive women have a 25 percent higher risk of breast cancer than active women .
Since older women are more likely to get breast cancer, a lack of exercise has a greater impact on breast cancer risk in older women than in younger women.
First, lets look at the women in the study ages 70-74 years.
The study finds 500 women per 100,000 who are inactive develop breast cancer in one year. This is the absolute risk for women with the risk factor, lack of exercise.
The study also shows 400 women per 100,000 who are active develop breast cancer in one year. This is the absolute risk for women without the risk factor.
The relative risk is 1.25 for women who are inactive compared to those who are active.
Among women ages 70-74, being inactive led to 100 more cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women in one year .
Now lets look at the women in the study ages 20-29.
The study finds 5 women per 100,000 who were inactive developed breast cancer in one year. And, 4 women per 100,000 who were active got breast cancer.
Here again, the relative risk is 1.25.
However, in women ages 20-29, being inactive led to only 1 extra case of breast cancer per 100,000 women .
So, the same relative risk of 1.25 led to many more extra cases of breast cancer in the older women than in the younger women .
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How Common Is Breast Cancer In Canada
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. Each year, more than 22,000 women develop breast cancer in Canada and more than 5,000 women die of the disease. Based on current rates, one in nine women in Canada is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
The risk of getting breast cancer goes up as women get older. The risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is as follows:
- 13 out of 1,000 women in their 40s
- 23 out of 1,000 women in their 50s
- 29 out of 1,000 women in their 60s
- 31 out of 1,000 women in their 70s
Since 1999, the rate of new cases of breast cancer has stabilized, and death rates have steadily declined.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk
If several members of your family have had breast or ovarian cancer, or one of your family members has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, share this information with your doctor. Your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling. In men, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the risk of breast cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
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What Are The Breast Cancer Chances
Factors that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer include: Being female. Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer. Increasing age. A personal history of breast conditions. A personal history of breast cancer. A family history of breast cancer. Inherited genes that increase cancer risk. Radiation exposure. Obesity. Beginning your period at a younger age. Beginning menopause at an older age.
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Using Your Family History
You should certainly share your family history with your medical team. Your doctors might advise genetic counseling or genetic testing if your family history suggests that you could be carrying a breast cancer gene.
Some red flags include:
- Cancer of any kind before the age of 50
- More than one relative with the same type of cancer
- One family member who has more than one type of cancer
- A family member who has cancer not typical for that gender, such as breast cancer in a male
- Certain combinations of cancer, such as the combination of breast cancer with ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, or melanoma
- Cancer in both of one organ, for example, bilateral breast or ovarian cancer
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Why Is Screening So Important
While some tumors in the breast are aggressive and grow quickly, most grow slowly. In some cases a tumor may have been growing for as long as 10 years before it creates a lump large enough to feel. That means that even if you know whats normal for your breasts and notice when something changes, you may not feel anything until the cancers been growing for a while.
Screening tests can find breast cancer early, when the chances of survival are highest. They can find breast cancer in a person who doesnt have any early signs or symptoms. For people at a higher risk, more frequent screening can mean that if they do develop cancer, they can find it and treat it sooner.
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.
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When You Can’t Find Your Family History
While many women already know if their mother, sister, or daughter have had breast cancer, you might not have this information.
If your close family members passed away at a young age, if some of them didn’t have access to health care , if you were adopted, or if members of your family have been otherwise separated, you might not know which illnesses run in your family.
While family history is important information, breast cancer screenings are the most important tools for early detection, whether or not you have a family history of the disease.
Unique Challenges For Young Adults
Breast cancer in young adults is just different. We are at a different phase of our lives and encounter unique challenges compared to older persons. These challenges may significantly impact our quality and length of life. Some of the unique challenges and issues young adults face:
- The possibility of early menopause and sexual dysfunction brought on by breast cancer treatment
- Fertility issues, because breast cancer treatment can affect a womanâs ability and plans to have children
- Many young women are raising small children while enduring treatment and subsequent side effects
- Young breast cancer survivors have a higher prevalence of psychosocial issues such as anxiety and depression13
- Questions about pregnancy after diagnosis
- Heightened concerns about body image, especially after breast cancer-related surgery and treatment
- Whether married or single, intimacy issues may arise for women diagnosed with breast cancer
- Challenges to financial stability due to workplace issues, lack of sufficient health insurance and the cost of cancer care
What Is The Prognosis For Men With Breast Cancer
It depends on the kind, stage, and type of breast cancer. In general, when male breast cancer is detected at an early stage, men have a similar chance of recovery as women with breast cancer.
However, breast cancer is often diagnosed in men at a later stage because many may not routinely examine their breasts, arent aware that breast cancer can occur in men, or are embarrassed about having a breast-related complaint, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright.
Later detection of breast cancer means the cancer is harder to cure and may have spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.
What Causes Breast Cancer Recurrence
The goal of cancer treatments is to kill cancer cells. But, cancer cells are tricky. Treatments can reduce tumors so much that tests dont detect their presence. These weakened cells can remain in the body after treatment. Over time, the cells get stronger. They start to grow and multiply again.
Even surgery to remove a cancerous tumor isnt always 100% effective. Cancer cells can move into nearby tissue, lymph nodes or the bloodstream before surgery takes place.
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Is A Preventative Double Mastectomy For Me
A woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer will often say, when discussing her surgical options, Why not just take them both off? These patients often express a desire to never have to worry about my breasts again, particularly those women who have had difficulty with screening procedures in the past or have a history of multiple breast biopsies. Women in whom the primary cancer was initially missed often lose faith in mammography and other screening methods and may feel that the only way to be sure this will not happen to them in the future is to remove both breasts.
Double mastectomies have been featured more in the mainstream media, increasing awareness of this option. Furthermore, the option of immediate reconstruction serves to make this route more appealing than in the past. But what is the real risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast? Do double mastectomies really save lives or improve quality of life? The answer is different for every woman. This article seeks to address these issues and assist individuals in making the most informed decision.
Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump
If you have previously had breast cancer or early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts, you have a higher risk of developing it again, either in your other breast or in the same breast.
A benign breast lump does not mean you have breast cancer, but certain types of breast lumps may slightly increase your risk of developing cancer.
Some benign changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobes , can make getting breast cancer more likely.
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What Is Different About Breast Cancer In Younger Women
- Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women is more difficult because their breast tissue is generally denser than the breast tissue in older women, and routine screening is not recommended.
- Breast cancer in younger women may be more aggressive and less likely to respond to treatment.
- Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age are more likely to have genetic mutations predisposing them to breast and other cancers.
- Younger women who have breast cancer may ignore the warning signssuch as a breast lump or unusual dischargebecause they believe they are too young to get breast cancer. This can lead to a delay in diagnosis and poorer outcomes.
- Some healthcare providers may also dismiss breast lumps or other symptoms in young women or adopt a “wait and see” approach.
- Breast cancer poses additional challenges for younger women as it can involve issues concerning sexuality, fertility, and pregnancy after breast cancer treatment.