When To Examine Your Breasts
You don’t need to examine your breasts every day or even every week. But it is important to know how your breasts normally feel, and how that changes with your periods.
Some women have lumpier breasts around the time of a period. If this is the same in both breasts, don’t worry. But check your breasts again the following month, a few days after your period is over.
If the lumpiness comes and goes with your menstrual cycle, it is nothing to worry about.
Your breasts usually feel softer and not as lumpy if you no longer have periods.
Survival Rates Of Stage 1 And Stage 2 Breast Cancer
According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the earlier breast cancer is first diagnosed, the better the outcome. The survival rates of people diagnosed with breast cancer have also improved over time due to earlier detection and improvements in treatment. Most people with early stage breast cancer can be treated successfully.
You may wish to discuss your prognosis and treatment options with your doctors. However, it is not possible to predict the exact course of your cancer and how long you will live. The length of survival can vary from person to person. Factors that influence this include:
- Response to treatment
- The type of breast cancer that you have
- The rate of tumour growth
- Other factors such as your age, medical history and overall health.
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed
During your regular physical examination, your doctor will take a thorough personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform and/or order one or more of the following:
- Breast examination: During the breast exam, the doctor will carefully feel the lump and the tissue around it. Breast cancer usually feels different than benign lumps.
- Digital mammography: An X-ray test of the breast can give important information about a breast lump. This is an X-ray image of the breast and is digitally recorded into a computer rather than on a film. This is generally the standard of care .
- Ultrasonography: This test uses sound waves to detect the character of a breast lump whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass . This may be performed along with the mammogram.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may or may not request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast mass cells or tissue. Biopsies are performed using surgery or needles.
After the sample is removed, it is sent to a lab for testing. A pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes views the sample under a microscope and looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth patterns. When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts or lobules .
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Treatment For Breast Cancer
The treatments for breast cancer are as follows:
A lumpectomy is when your doctor removes the tumor while leaving your breast intact. The procedure removes just the cancerous tissue, which means that theres less that needs to heal. It also reduces the chance of recurrence, which is why it is often recommended when cancer is detected early on.
A mastectomy is the surgical removal of all breast tissue, including the tumour and connecting tissue. This doctor usually performs in one surgery or in two surgeries. The first surgery removes all breast tissue except for the nipple, while the second surgery removes the nipple and reconstructs what is left of your breast with skin taken from other parts of your body.
Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with cells ability to reproduce. Chemotherapy doctors perform intravenously and it works by causing cancer cells to die or by stopping them from dividing.
Radiation is a form of electromagnetic energy doctors use in many different ways. The most common uses for therapeutic radiation are its use in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Radiation therapy is also called radiotherapy or RT.
Hormonal and targeted therapy
Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer
Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.
The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:
Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:
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Playing An Active Role
You play an active role in making treatment decisions by understanding your breast cancer diagnosis, your treatment options and possible side effects.
Together, you and your health care provider can choose treatments that fit your values and lifestyle.
The National Academy of Sciences released the report, Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis in 2013. Susan G. Komen® was one of 13 organizations that sponsored this study.
The report identified key ways to improve quality of care:
Radiation Therapy And Mastectomy
Most women who have a mastectomy dont need radiation therapy if theres no cancer in the lymph nodes.
In some cases, radiation therapy is used after mastectomy to treat the chest wall, the axillary lymph nodes and/or the lymph nodes around the collarbone.
For a summary of research studies on mastectomy versus lumpectomy plus radiation therapy and overall survival in early breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
For a summary of research studies on radiation therapy following mastectomy for invasive breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
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Checking The Lymph Nodes
The usual treatment is surgery to remove the cancer. Before your surgery you have an ultrasound scan to check the lymph nodes in the armpit close to the breast. This is to see if they contain cancer cells. If breast cancer spreads, it usually first spreads to the lymph nodes close to the breast.
Depending on the results of your scan you might have:
- a sentinel lymph node biopsy during your breast cancer operation
- surgery to remove your lymph nodes
You may have other treatments after surgery.
The Importance Of Staging In Breast Cancer Treatment Options
The stage of breast cancer is determined largely by the size of the tumor and whether it has spread beyond the breast to lymph nodes and/or other areas of the body. Early-stage breast cancer is smaller and hasn’t spread at all or only to a couple of lymph nodes closest to the breast where cancer was found. Learn more about breast cancer staging.
Among the various classifications of breast cancer, one category assigned is based on the extent to which the cancer has spread. The patient will be identified as one of:
- Early-stage breast cancer: Breast cancer is contained within the tissues of the breast or the axillary lymph nodes . This includes patients with ductal carcinoma in situ as well as stages 1, 2A, 2B, and sometimes 3A breast cancers.
- Locally advanced breast cancer: Cancer has spread beyond the breast tissues and affected many axillary lymph nodes. This includes the various levels of stage 3.
- Metastatic breast cancer: Also referred to as distant breast cancer, there are cancer cells found in other areas of the body. This is also referred to as stage 4. The most common places that breast cancer cells will move to include the bones, liver, and lungs/chest wall.
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Prognostic And Predictive Factors
Numerous prognostic and predictive factors for breast cancer have been identified by the College of American Pathologists to guide the clinical management of women with breast cancer. Breast cancer prognostic factors include the following:
- Axillary lymph node status
- Histologic subtypes
- Response to neoadjuvant therapy
- Estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor status
- HER2 gene amplification or overexpression
Cancerous involvement of the lymph nodes in the axilla is an indication of the likelihood that the breast cancer has spread to other organs. Survival and recurrence are independent of level of involvement but are directly related to the number of involved nodes.
Patients with node-negative disease have an overall 10-year survival rate of 70% and a 5-year recurrence rate of 19%. In patients with lymph nodes that are positive for cancer, the recurrence rates at 5 years are as follows:
- One to three positive nodes 30-40%
- Four to nine positive nodes 44-70%
- 10 positive nodes 72-82%
Hormone receptorpositive tumors generally have a more indolent course and are responsive to hormone therapy. ER and PR assays are routinely performed on tumor material by pathologists immunohistochemistry is a semiquantitative technique that is observer- and antibody-dependent.
Finding Breast Cancer With Screening
The UK national breast screening programme uses breast x-rays to find breast cancer early before it causes symptoms.
The programme invites women between the ages of 50 and 70 to have a mammogram every 3 years. In England, the screening programme is currently extending the age range from 47 to 73. Women older than this can ask to carry on having screening every 3 years.
Even with the breast screening programme, some breast cancers are first spotted by women themselves. This might be because the woman is too young to have started screening. Or it may be because she stopped having screening when she reached the age of 70. Or it could be that a breast cancer starts to cause symptoms between mammograms. This is known as an interval cancer.
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What Is Breast Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign. If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant .
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
What Happens If My Ki
Because not all early breast cancer is the same, your doctor may use Ki-67 along with other information to help determine the likelihood of your cancer returning, and which treatments may work best to reduce the risk of recurrence.
*This is different than an Oncotype DX test, which is a genomic test that analyzes a sample of a cancer tumor to determine how active multiple genes are.
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Family History Of Breast Cancer
A positive family history of breast cancer is the most widely recognized risk factor for breast cancer. The lifetime risk is up to 4 times higher if a mother and sister are affected, and it is about 5 times greater in women who have two or more first-degree relatives with breast cancer. The risk is also greater among women with breast cancer in a single first-degree relative, particularly if the relative was diagnosed at an early age .
Despite a history indicating increased risk, many of these families have normal results on genetic testing. However, identification of additional genetic variants associated with increased risk may prove valuable. Michailidou et al conducted a controlled genome-wide association study of breast cancer that included 122,977 cases of European ancestry and 14,068 cases of East Asian ancestry, and identified 65 new loci associated with overall breast cancer risk. A GWAS by Milne et al identified 10 variants at 9 new loci that are associated with risk of estrogen receptornegative breast cancer.
A family history of ovarian cancer in a first-degree relative, especially if the disease occurred at an early age , has been associated with a doubling of breast cancer risk. This often reflects inheritance of a pathogenic mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
The family history characteristics that suggest increased risk of cancer are summarized as follows:
- Ontario Family History Assessment Tool
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing
Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast
Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.
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What Causes Breast Cancer
While there is no specific cause for breast cancer, some lifestyle factors are associated with a higher risk of developing the condition:
- Drinking alcohol may raise oestrogen levels in the body and is associated with a 30 to 50% increased risk of breast cancer.
- Unhealthy weight Being obese is associated with a 20 to 40% increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
- Smoking, particularly if you started as a teenager, increases your breast cancer risk.
Other factors that cant be changed also impact your likelihood of getting breast cancer:
- Your age The older you get, the more likely it is your cells become damaged and progress to cancer. Nearly 4 in 5 new breast cancers are diagnosed in women over 50 years.
- Your family history Women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer are twice as likely to get it themselves than women without one.
- Having BRCA1, BRCA2 or other gene mutations Up to 1 in 10 breast cancers are due to a strong family history of these genetic mutations.
- Dense breasts Women with more dense tissue in their breasts may have a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Previous radiation exposure Women who were exposed to radiation therapy in the chest region may have 5 times the risk of breast cancer as women who were not.
Breast Cancer Survival Rate
Breast cancer survival rates vary widely based on many factors.
Two of the most important factors are the type of cancer you have and the stage of the cancer at the time you receive a diagnosis. Other factors that may play a role include your age, gender, and race.
shows theres a higher mortality rate in non-white people diagnosed with breast cancer compared with white people. One reason for this may be healthcare disparities.
The good news is breast cancer survival rates are improving.
According to the ACS , in 1975, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in women was 75.2 percent. But for women diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, it was 90.6 percent.
Five-year survival rates for breast cancer differ depending on stage at diagnosis, ranging from 99 percent for localized, early stage cancers to 27 percent for advanced, metastatic cancers.
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How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.