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What To Do If Breast Cancer Runs In Your Family

Breast Cancer Charity Runs First Uncensored Live Breast Check On Twitter

How Do I Know If Cancer Runs In My Family?

The charity joined forces with Twitter to run an online stream with experts.

A breast cancer charity marked the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the first uncensored live breast check on Twitter.

Charity Breast Cancer Now joined forces with the social media platform to run the stream on Thursday evening, with an expert nurse explaining how to check your breasts or chest.

The landmark broadcast is part of the #TouchLookCheck campaign, which encourages people to regularly check for new or unusual changes.

Addie Mitchell, a clinical nurse specialist, was joined by three volunteers who demonstrated the technique for a breast and chest check.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: Its critical we do all we can to ensure everyone makes checking their breasts or chests a habit of a lifetime, as anyone can be affected by this devastating disease.

Checking your breasts or chests takes just a couple of minutes but could make all the difference two thirds of breast cancers are found by women noticing unusual breast changes and getting them checked by a GP.

Thats why were so excited to have teamed up with Twitter to launch the UKs first ever live uncensored breast check on Twitter, where well share vital information on how to check your breasts and chests, and possible signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

The #TouchLookCheck campaign has been backed by a number of celebrities including Spice Girl Geri Horner.

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Act Like A Detective About Your Family History Of Cancer

Relatives dont like to share medical information and the older they are, the less likely they are to talk. Or as Ross puts it, Having cancer conversations with family brings out the crazies in all of us. Just knowing that helps you tolerate the crazies. Start by writing down medical information about every close family member, beginning with yourself. Then, at family gatherings, collect information in a casual way, by asking relatives for stories about their life rather than grilling them. Then go home and record the information .

There Are Certain Clues That Tell You Whether Cancer Is Hereditary

If your dad was a heavy smoker who died of lung cancer, its a good bet that the cancer he died from was environmentally caused rather than caused by a large inherited component, says Ross. But watch for these signs: Several close family members were diagnosed with cancer before age 50 multiple family members have the same type of cancer there are many cases of a rare cancer in the family relatives have gotten cancer in both pairs of organs .

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Not Everyone Needs Genetic Testing

If there is a strong family history and you have an ethnic background that puts you at risk for a particular mutation, then it may be worth your while to be tested, says Ross. But testing all your genes to find out all your mutation may not be such a good idea. They say that a third of cancers are inherited but we only know about 5 to 10 percent of cancers with specific genes. Without knowing where to look, the results are hard to interpret.

Make Healthier Lifestyle Choices

Does breast cancer under age 50 run in your family?

Making healthier lifestyle choices can reduce your risk, such as not smoking. Other lifestyle choices that the NCCN says are linked to a lower risk of developing cancer include:

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How Is A Mammogram Done

Your breast will rest on a shelf and the X-ray machine willslowly press against your breast until you feel pressure. This pressure isneeded to spread your breast out so that a better X-ray can be taken. The X-raytakes 1 or 2 minutes, and the entire process usually takes no more than about20 minutes.

What Causes Breast Cancer

Most breast cancers are caused by a combination of many different things

While the exact causes are still unknown, research has shown that some things can increase or decrease the likelihood of getting breast cancer. These are called ‘risk factors’. Being a woman and getting older are the biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer.

A small number of people have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history. This may be because an altered gene that increases the risk of breast cancer runs in the family.

If you are worried about your family history you may be able to have a family history risk assessment.

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Genetic Testing For Cancer Risk

If you are worried about the pattern of cancer in your family, talk to your GP. They will ask you about any close blood relatives who have had cancer. Close blood relatives are your parents, brothers, sisters, children, aunts, uncles and grandparents. People you are related to by marriage are not blood relatives.

It is important to remember that cancer is very common. Most of us have relatives who have had cancer. This does not always mean there is a cancer gene in your family, or that you have a much higher risk of developing cancer. Most cases of cancer are not caused by an inherited mutation. Only a small number of people get cancer that is clearly linked to an inherited cancer gene.

Your GP will use the information about your family to assess your risk of cancer. If your GP thinks there is a chance that cancer may run in your family, they can refer you to a genetics specialist.

The genetics specialist will check whether you are likely to have a higher than average risk of certain types of cancer. They can also tell you whether a genetic test is possible and useful in your situation. We have more information about seeing a genetics specialist and having genetic testing.

The genetics specialist will explain if you have a high risk of developing a certain type of cancer. This may be because:

If you are struggling to cope with a high risk of cancer, talking about your feelings and worries may help.

We have more detailed information about:

When Should I Talk To My Healthcare Provider About A Change In My Breast

Breast Cancer in Your Family: What Does that Mean for You?

Although there is no evidence that breast self-exams can help prevent breast cancer, they might help you get familiar with how your breasts normally feel so you may more easily notice any changes. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice any of the changes listed below.

Changes to look for in your breasts:

  • Any new lump
  • Unusual thickening of your breasts
  • Sticky or bloody discharge from your nipples
  • Any changes in the skin of your nipples or breasts, such as puckering or dimpling
  • An unusual increase in the size of one breast
  • One breast unusually lower than the other

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Planning Financially For Breast Cancer Treatment

An unexpected cancer diagnosis often comes with a heavy financial burden. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, surgeries, and medications throughout the treatment journey can come as a shock, especially if they turn out to be out-of-pocket expenses. Medical bills can create additional stress in already trying times, so it’s important that patients understand any and all expenses that may arise during breast cancer treatment.

Patients should always contact their insurance company to see what expenses will be covered by insurance and what resources will require funds from elsewhere. Crowdfunding via sites like GoFundMe has become a popular way to cover medical and living expenses throughout the treatment journey, as patients look to the support of their friends, family, and even generous strangers in their community. If a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving a misdiagnosis, compensation from a successful medical malpractice lawsuit can also help ease the financial stress of growing medical bills.

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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The Importance Of Knowing Your Family Medical History When It Comes To Breast Cancer

Your family members share with you more than just the same color eyes or the same kind of hair. While many features you have inherited from your family members may be easy to recognize, one thing that is not easy to immediately recognize is family medical history.

Being aware of your family medical history is important because you may be at increased risk for developing medical conditions if they run in your family. Sharing your family medical history with your doctor can help you to keep an eye on any symptoms you may be having that could be an indicator of a medical condition that runs in your family. Knowing your family medical history also allows your physician to help you get screenings earlier, if need be.

Collecting your family history can be as simple as asking your family members about your family history of cancer at a gathering or family function. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends looking through any existing family records that can help you determine information about any types of cancer your relatives have had, including breast cancer. Collect information about parents, grandparents, siblings, children and extended family members like aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

If breast cancer runs in your family, there are certain lifestyle steps you can take to help reduce your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting consumption of alcohol, eating nutritious and healthy food and never smoking are all important.

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When Breast Cancer Runs In Your Family

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What Is Breast Cancer

Breast cancer begins in breast tissue. Most of the tumors that develop in breast tissue are benign . Some breast tumors are cancerous, but have not yet spread to other parts of the body. This type of breast cancer is called in situ, and it can almost always be cured with treatment. The most serious type of breast cancer is invasive, meaning that the cancerous tumors have spread to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women .). The good news is that the rate of death from breast cancer has declined over the last few years. This is probably because more tumors have been found early, when treatment can help the most. Regular screening mammograms and breast exams can help find breast cancers early.

When Should I Talk To My Doctor About A Change In My Breast

Although there is no evidence that breast self-exams can help prevent breast cancer, they might help you get familiar with how your breasts normally feel so you may more easily notice any changes. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the changes listed below.

Your cancer will be staged to determine its severity and extent. Staging is a careful attempt to find out the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body.

Staging also includes testing your tumor for certain receptors, such as estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 . This will help your cancer care team decide on a treatment that will work best for you. You may need to have more tests to determine the stage of your cancer.

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Family History Isnt The Only Risk Factor

If breast cancer runs in your family, youre at a higher risk of suffering from the disease. However, family genetics arent the only threats. A sedentary lifestyle can also put you in jeopardy of developing many diseases, one being breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy can also increase the chances of developing cancer cells in the breasts.

Understanding A Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast cancer runs in my family. What should I do?

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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Who’s At Risk For Developing Breast Cancer

You are much more likely to have a breast-cancer-related genetic mutation if you have any of these conditions:

  • Blood relatives , on either side of the family, who had breast cancer diagnosed before age 50
  • Both breast and ovarian cancer on the same side of the family or in one person
  • A relative with triple-negative breast cancer by age 60
  • Family members with cancers of the breasts, prostate, pancreas, stomach, uterus, thyroid, colon, or who has sarcoma or melanoma
  • Women in your family with cancer in both breasts or ovarian cancer at any age
  • Cancer in multiple generations on one side of your family
  • Family history of child or young adult cancers
  • Ashkenazi Jewish/Eastern European heritage
  • Black and diagnosed with breast cancer before age 35
  • Male family member with breast cancer at any age
  • You know there are abnormal breast cancer genes in your family

Risk can also be measured as to how likely you are to develop breast cancer. The average American woman has a 12% risk of developing breast cancer during her lifetime. Having a BRCA mutation increases that from 27% up to 72%. BRCA mutations tend to develop in younger women and occur more often in both breasts, compared to women without BRCA mutations. Only 1 in 400 people have mutations of the BRCA gene.

If You Feel A Lump Does It Mean You Have Breast Cancer

Only 20% of the breast lumps are cancerous. Also, no doctor bases a cancer diagnosis on a simple self-examination. There are other sophisticated diagnostic tools such as mammography and biopsy that determine whether or not you have breast cancer.

I hope this blog helped you understand the importance of breast self-examination at home. Plus, you now know the necessary steps for how to do your breast self-check every month.

If you found this breast self-exam guide useful, please share it with your friends and family. Also, dont forget to download the instructional breast cancer self-exam PDF for free!

References:

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A Word Of Caution Regarding Home Genetic Tests For Breast Cancer

The idea of a home genetic test for breast cancer is exciting to many people, as these tests might help them avoid the clinic while being their own advocate in their health. It’s important to thoroughly understand the limitations of these tests, however, if you choose to do one.

For example, a popular at-home genetic test identifies three breast cancer genes that are more common among Ashkenazi women but are rare in other ethnic populations. While the company is transparent in admitting that the test only checks for 3 out of a potential 1000 BRCA mutations, not everyone reads the small print. The bottom line on this test is that for Ashkenazi Jewish woman, a positive test might let them know they should see their doctor . For most women the test is relatively meaningless, and actually be harmful if they trusted the results and did not have formal testing.

Learn More About Breast Cancer Genetics

Concerned If Breast Cancer Runs in Your Family?

If you think you may want or need to be tested for BRCA or other gene mutations, meet with a genetic counselor. Cancer specialists will evaluate your personal situation and possible risk factors for breast or ovarian cancer. This area of medicine is changing so fast that, even if you’ve had genetic testing, you may need to be tested again for newly discovered gene mutations. This will help you and your doctor better understand your risk and treatment options.

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