Other Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Other factors that seem to increase risk include:
- not having children or having children after the age of 30
- early age at first period
- later age of natural menopause
- alcohol intake
- obesity or gaining a lot of weight after menopause
- using the contraceptive pill the risk is higher while taking the pill and for about ten years after stopping use
- using hormone replacement therapy also known as hormone therapy the risk increases the longer you take it, but disappears within about two years of stopping use.
Having some of these risk factors does not mean that you will get breast cancer. Most women with breast cancer have no known risk factors, aside from getting older. More research needs to be done before we can be definite about risk factors.
In men, the main risk factor is abnormal enlargement of the breasts due to drug, chemical or hormone treatments. Men with Klinefelters syndrome can also be at risk. A mans risk increases where there is a family history of male breast cancer or a strong family history of breast cancer.
Are There Complications Of Breast Cancer
Possible complications from breast cancer treatment include:
- Lymphoedema in some cases, removing your lymph nodes may cause swelling, discomfort and pain in the arm, shoulder and upper body.
- Early menopause certain treatments, especially chemotherapy and hormone therapy, can cause menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes, joint pain, or a change in sex drive, to occur earlier than usual.
- Anxiety and depression research shows that anxiety and depression are common among women with breast cancer. One study found that up to 50 per cent of women with early breast cancer may experience anxiety and/or depression in the year after diagnosis.
When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor or healthcare professional if you notice symptoms of possible breast cancer, such as a lump, pain, itch, nipple discharge or dimpling, or if you have any concerns about your breast cancer risk.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will assess you and work out if you need further tests. If required, they can refer you to a local service and provide necessary follow-up care.
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Social Injustices Lead To Unequal Exposures
Just as environmental factors have been largely ignored as possible risk factors for breast cancer, so have the complex issues of social inequities political, economic and racial injustices. The extent and type of toxins were exposed to often depends on where we live and work. Poorer communities both urban and rural shoulder an unequal share of the burden.
The social determinants of breast cancer likely contribute significantly to the development and mortality rate of the disease, and these involuntary factors are shown to be of greater impact on women of color and low-income women, since these populations are at greater risk for exposure to toxins and social injustice-related stresses.
Low-income women are also less likely to have access to healthy foods and quality healthcare. Compelling research and simple intuition tells us that true reduction of both breast cancer incidence and death from the disease requires a better understanding of how the complex tangle of the environmental and social factors, genetics and personal behavior results in different outcomes for different ethnic and economic groups.
Types Of Breast Cancer
There are many different types of breast cancer and common ones include ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive carcinoma. Others, like phyllodes tumors and angiosarcoma are less common.
Once a biopsy is done, breast cancer cells are tested for proteins called estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and HER2. The tumor cells are also closely looked at in the lab to find out what grade it is. The specific proteins found and the tumor grade can help decide treatment options.
To learn more about specific types of breast cancer and tests done on the breast cancer cells, see Understanding a Breast Cancer Diagnosis.
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What Are Therapies For Her2
Your health care team needs to evaluate all therapy and provide guidance in response to all test results available and the specific circumstances of your cancer.
There are targeted therapies for HER2-positive breast cancers a number of drugs are available to target this protein:
- Trastuzumab : a monoclonal antibody given by itself or with chemotherapy to treat HER2-positive breast cancers
Cytotoxics And Targeted Therapies
are a relatively new class of cancer drugs that can overcome many of the issues seen with the use of cytotoxics. They are divided into two groups: small molecule and antibodies. The massive toxicity seen with the use of cytotoxics is due to the lack of cell specificity of the drugs. They will kill any rapidly dividing cell, tumor or normal. Targeted therapies are designed to affect cellular proteins or processes that are utilised by the cancer cells. This allows a high dose to cancer tissues with a relatively low dose to other tissues. Although the are often less severe than that seen of cytotoxic chemotherapeutics, life-threatening effects can occur. Initially, the targeted therapeutics were supposed to be solely selective for one protein. Now it is clear that there is often a range of protein targets that the drug can bind. An example target for targeted therapy is the BCR-ABL1 protein produced from the , a genetic lesion found commonly in and in some patients with . This has enzyme activity that can be inhibited by , a drug.
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Myth: If You Maintain A Healthy Weight Exercise Regularly Eat Healthy And Limit Alcohol You Dont Have To Worry About Breast Cancerfact: Although These Behaviors Can Help Lower Breast Cancer Risk They Cant Eliminate It
Its something we hear again and again from newly diagnosed women: I eat healthy, Im at a healthy weight, Im active, and I barely drink. So how did I end up with breast cancer? Yes, there is evidence that all of these behaviors can help lower your risk. However, they cant guarantee youll never get the disease. There are so many examples of people who do everything right and still get breast cancer.
Its certainly worth managing the risk factors you can control, such as what you eat and drink and how physically active you are. But its still important to get regular screenings, perform breast self-exams, and pay attention to any unusual changes in your breasts. And if you have any health-nut friends or relatives who think theres no way theyd ever get breast cancer, help them understand that no one is 100% safe.
Community member Beesie says: I think the heavy focus on lifestyle and environmental factors can be misleading since most breast cancers are caused by factors outside of our control.
Theres a myth that its your fault, adds Community member Illimae. It is not your fault, there is risk with everything in life, dont beat yourself up.
Why Is This Cancer Spreading So Much
According to gynecologist Martha Hazra, unhealthy environment is one of the main causes of human papillomavirus. In India, girls often have to live in unhealthy environments, even in marginal areas, even in urban areas. There are very few ways or opportunities to take care of the genitals. In addition, the trend of smoking and drinking among Indian girls has increased nowadays. In this too, such feminine diseases are being suppressed more and more. Being unhealthy during periods, not being able to change underwear for long periods of time these are also emerging as small and big side effects of the disease.
Besides, lack of awareness is also responsible for this. So this disease is not decreasing in spite of various propaganda campaigns year after year. However, there is no benefit in just blaming the patient. Indian villages or small health centers do not have the infrastructure and doctors to diagnose the disease.
Cancer means a lot of costs, a lot of harassment this idea seems to be ingrained. So many families start relying on alternative medicine or alternative medicine when they catch this disease. Many times the disease is even bigger than this.
Indian women do not look after themselves in office, doing housework. As much care as they need, there is still a deficit. Exercise, diet, overweight, stress, smoking and drinking are also factors.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- a lump or area of thickened tissue in the breast
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- a change in the shape or appearance of the nipple, such as crusting, sores, redness or inversion
- changes to the skin of the breasts, such as dimpling , rash, or redness
- discomfort or swelling in either armpit
Symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those that women experience.
If you have any unusual symptoms, such as the above, you should see your doctor to get them checked.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
In its early stages, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. In many cases, a tumor may be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can still be seen on a mammogram.
If a tumor can be felt, the first sign is usually a new lump in the breast that was not there before. However, not all lumps are cancer.
Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. Symptoms for the most common breast cancers include:
- a breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different than surrounding tissue and has developed recently
- breast pain
- changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts
- a lump or swelling under your arm
If you have any of these symptoms, it doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. For instance, pain in your breast or a breast lump can be caused by a benign cyst.
Still, if you find a lump in your breast or have other symptoms, you should see your doctor for further examination and testing.
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Your Race And Ethnicity
White and Black women have the highest risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latina womens breast cancer rates fall in between two major groupings while American Indian and Alaska Native women are on the lowest end of risk.
While white women are more likely to develop breast cancer than Black women overall, they tend to be diagnosed at an older age . Black women have the highest breast cancer rates among women under age 40. Black women make up a higher percentage of triple-negative breast cancer cases.
What to do: If your race or ethnicity places you at higher risk, make sure you follow all screening recommendations to improve your chances of catching cancer early.
Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented
You may be able to help prevent breast cancer by making healthy lifestyle changes such as
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol use
- Limiting your exposure to estrogen by
- Breastfeeding your babies if you can
- Limiting hormone therapy
If you are at high risk, your health care provider may suggest that you take certain medicines to lower the risk. Some women at very high risk may decide to get a mastectomy to prevent breast cancer.
It’s also important to get regular mammograms. They may be able to identify breast cancer in the early stages, when it is easier to treat.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
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Myth: Wearing A Bra Can Cause Breast Cancerfact: There Is No Evidence That Bras Cause Breast Cancer
From time to time, media coverage and the internet have fueled myths that wearing a bra can increase breast cancer risk.
The theory was that wearing a bra especially an underwire style could restrict the flow of lymph fluid out of the breast, causing toxic substances to build up in the tissue.
However, there is no evidence to support this claim. A 2014 study of roughly 1,500 women with breast cancer found no link between bra-wearing and breast cancer.
Breast Size And Density
One breast is usually smaller than the other. Your breasts may feel different at different times in the month. It is common for breasts to feel lumpy just before your period.
Younger women have more glandular tissue than fat in their breasts, making them dense.
Your breasts also change during pregnancy. You may notice that they become bigger and feel more tender.
After your periods stop fat gradually replaces the glandular tissue, which is less dense.
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How Can We Use The Precautionary Principle To Protect Our Health
The Precautionary Principle is the common sense idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The main components of the Precautionary Principle are:
- Acting now, even before definitive scientific proof of harm, to reduce and eliminate practices that we suspect do harm to human health or the environment because lack of evidence does not equal lack of harm.
- Seeking out alternatives to activities that pose a threat to human health or the environment.
- Shifting the burden of proof so that the companies that make and profit from products and activities must prove they are safe, rather than the current situation where the public is required to prove that something is harmful before its stopped.
- Using an open, informed and democratic process that involves affected communities in decisions being made about their health and their environment.
Because the U.S. government has no adequate chemical regulation policy, when government does step in, it uses a risk management model which asks, How much harm is allowable? By contrast, the Precautionary Principle asks, How little harm is possible?
As we push for more and better data, we continue to demand that lawmakers and industry abide by the Precautionary Principle by acting now, on the basis of the weight of the evidence that already exists, to reduce and eliminate our exposure to chemicals we know or suspect cause breast cancer and other chronic diseases.
Environmental Links To Breast Cancer
A growing body of evidence from experimental, body burden and ecological research indicates that there is a connection between environmental factors and breast cancer. Of the 42,000 chemicals in the market today, only 3,500 have been tested for safety.
The U.S. government has no adequate chemical regulation policy, which allows companies to manufacture and use chemicals without ever establishing their safety in humans. As the use of chemicals has risen in the U.S. and other industrialized countries, so have rates of breast and other cancers.
Key facts about the environment and breast cancer:
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Causes Of Breast Cancer
Cancer is developed due to the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells but the exact cause of cell growth is not well-known. Meanwhile, the doctors found some factors that may trigger the development of breast cancer. These factors include:
- Genetic factors
- Exposure to female hormones
- Being overweight
Does Breast Cancer Affect Women Of All Races Equally
All women, especially as they age, are at some risk for developing breast cancer. The risks for breast cancer in general arent evenly spread among ethnic groups, and the risk varies among ethnic groups for different types of breast cancer. Breast cancer mortality rates in the United States have declined by 40% since 1989, but disparities persist and are widening between non-Hispanic Black women and non-Hispanic white women.
Statistics show that, overall, non-Hispanic white women have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race/ethnicity. The incidence rate for non-Hispanic Black women is almost as high.
Non-Hispanic Black women in the U.S. have a 39% higher risk of dying from breast cancer at any age. They are twice as likely to get triple-negative breast cancer as white women. This type of cancer is especially aggressive and difficult to treat. However, it’s really among women with hormone positive disease where Black women have worse clinical outcomes despite comparable systemic therapy. Non-Hispanic Black women are less likely to receive standard treatments. Additionally, there is increasing data on discontinuation of adjuvant hormonal therapy by those who are poor and underinsured.
In women under the age of 45, breast cancer is found more often in non-Hispanic Black women than in non-Hispanic white women.
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What Do We Know About The Cause Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer originates in breast tissue. Its caused by changes, or mutations, in breast cell DNA. These mutations cause cells to grow abnormally and divide quicker than healthy cells do. The abnormal cells accumulate, forming a malignant breast mass, also known as a lump.
Your immune system may be able to successfully fight some abnormal cells. but the ones that continue to grow may spread, or metastasize, throughout the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
When breast cancer spreads, the malignant tumors it causes in other places are still referred to as breast cancer.
What exactly triggers DNA changes in breast cells isnt clear. Two people can have the same or similar risk factors, but only one might develop breast cancer.
But your genetics and external factors, like smoking, also have an impact. Genetic risk factors cant be changed, but lifestyle choices that put you at higher risk can be altered.
Its also likely that for many people, multiple risk factors both genetic and environmental have an impact when several are present.