What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
There are many different signs and symptoms of breast cancer, so regularly checking your breasts for anything different or new is important.
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. Getting to know what your breasts look and feel like normally means its easier to spot any unusual changes and check them with your doctor. Common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit. You might feel the lump, but not see it.
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- A change in skin texture i.e. puckering or dimpling of the skin
- A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
- Rash, crusting or changes to the nipple
- Any unusual discharge from either nipple
Over a third of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Breast Cancer Now, a third of those who do check their breasts for possible signs and symptoms dont feel confident that they would notice a change.
Asked what stops or prevents them from checking their breasts more regularly, over half forgetting to check, over a third not being in the habit of checking, a fifth not feeling confident in checking their breasts, not knowing how to check , not knowing what to look for and being worried about finding a new or unusual change .
Some factors are outside our control, including:
What Can I Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting Breast Cancer
To help reduce the risk of getting breast cancer:
- Be aware of your family history and discuss any concerns with your health care provider.
- Discuss the use of hormone replacement therapy with your health care provider.
- If possible, breastfeed your baby. Studies have shown that breastfeeding for longer periods of time lowers the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Discuss the risks and benefits of medical imaging, such as CT scans, with your health care provider to avoid unnecessary exposure to ionizing radiation.
Regular check-ups and screening tests can find breast cancer at an earlier stage, when treatment works best. The most important action women can take is to have routine breast cancer screenings. For more information on breast cancer screening, call the Cancer Services Program at 1-866-442-CANCER or visit the website at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
- A change in the look or feel of the skin on the breast or nipple .
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
- A marble-like hardened area under the skin.
These changes may be found when performing monthly breast self-exams. By performing breast self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts.
Breast self-examination should be performed at the same time each month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month.
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Women Who Drink Alcohol
Science has established a link between alcohol and breast cancer. One review of 53 studies found that for every daily drink of alcohol consumed, the relative risk of developing breast cancer increased by seven percent. Women who consumed two to three drinks per day were 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
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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Who Gets Cancer Demographics And Risk Factors
- Joseph Studios
Cancer currently ranks as a leading cause of death in every country in the world. This disease accounted for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020 alone, affecting people of every age, sex, race, ethnicity, financial status, and creed. Cancer doesnt discriminate, and the unfortunate truth is that it can strike anyone at any time.
That said, some people may be at a higher risk based on certain lifestyle factors or familial history. With these variables in mind, who gets cancer, and how does it develop?
Possible Reasons For Differences In Rates Of Tnbc
Although the reasons for racial and ethnic differences in rates of TNBC arent clear, some lifestyle factors may play a role .
Compared to white and non-Hispanic white women, Black and African American women tend to :
- Have lower rates of breastfeeding
Both of these factors may be linked to an increased risk of TNBC .
Women with certain reproductive and lifestyle factors may have a lower risk of ER-positive breast cancers, but not a lower risk of ER-negative breast cancers, including TNBC .
Black and African American women may be more likely than white women to have protective factors that may not be linked to the risk of TNBC as much as they are linked to the risk of ER-positive cancers.
For example, Black and African American women are more likely than white and non-Hispanic white women to :
- Have more children
- Be a younger age at first childbirth
- Be overweight or obese before menopause
Although these factors are linked to a lower the risk of breast cancer, this lower risk may be limited to ER-positive breast cancers . Theres even some evidence these factors may be linked to an increased risk of TNBC .
These topics are under study.
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How Much Do Tamoxifen And Raloxifene Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Multiple studies have shown that both tamoxifen and raloxifene can reduce the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in healthy postmenopausal women who are at high risk of developing the disease. Tamoxifen lowered the risk by 50 percent. Raloxifene lowered the risk by 38 percent. Overall, the combined results of these studies showed that taking tamoxifen or raloxifene daily for five years reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by at least one-third. In one trial directly comparing tamoxifen with raloxifene, raloxifene was found to be slightly less effective than tamoxifen for preventing breast cancer.
Both tamoxifen and raloxifene have been approved for use to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Tamoxifen is approved for use in both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women . Raloxifene is approved for use only in postmenopausal women.
Less common but more serious side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include blood clots to the lungs or legs. Other serious side effects of tamoxifen are an increased risk for cataracts and endometrial cancers. Other common, less serious shared side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Interactive Statistics With Seer*explorer
With SEER*Explorer, you can…
- Create custom graphs and tables
SEER*Explorer is an interactive website that provides easy access to a wide range of SEER cancer statistics. It provides detailed statistics for a cancer site by gender, race, calendar year, age, and for a selected number of cancer sites, by stage and histology.
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Reducing The Cancer Burden
Between 30 and 50% of cancers can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and appropriate treatment and care of patients who develop cancer. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated appropriately.
What Is The Average American Womans Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer During Her Lifetime
Based on current incidence rates, 12.9% of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some time during their lives . This estimate, from the most recent SEER Cancer Statistics Review , is based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017.
This estimate means that, if the current incidence rate stays the same, a woman born today has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. On the other hand, the chance that she will never have breast cancer is 87.1%, or about 7 in 8.
For men born in the United States today, the lifetime risk of breast cancer is 0.13%, based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017. This means that a man born today has about a 1 in 800 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during his life.
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Risk Factors For Cancers
Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution are risk factors for cancer .
Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer this is a particular issue in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 13% of cancers diagnosed in 2018 globally were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus , hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus .
Hepatitis B and C viruses and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively. Infection with HIV substantially increases the risk of cancers such as cervical cancer.
Who Does Breast Cancer Affect
Breast cancer mainly affects older women.
Most breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. And the older you are, the higher your risk.
Men can also get breast cancer, but this is rare. Most men who get breast cancer are over 60.
Breast cancer is caused by a combination of our genes, environment and lifestyles. Find out more about breast cancer causes.
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Taking Charge: Who Gets Breast Cancer
There are no rules about who gets this disease. The two most significant risk factors are being a woman, and increasing age. However, there are other factors that may increase your risk, and some that may lower it.
The development of breast cancer may be influenced by factors that affect the levels of female hormones that circulate in your body throughout life. These factors include the age when you began your menstrual period, the number of times you have been pregnant, your age at first pregnancy, whether you have breastfed your children, and your level of physical activity.
Does A Benign Breast Condition Mean That I Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer
Benign breast conditions rarely increase your risk of breast cancer. Some women have biopsies that show a condition called hyperplasia . This condition increases your risk only slightly.
When the biopsy shows hyperplasia and abnormal cells, which is a condition called atypical hyperplasia, your risk of breast cancer increases somewhat more. Atypical hyperplasia occurs in about 5% of benign breast biopsies.
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How Else Can I Reduce My Risk For Cancer
The following may help reduce the risk of developing cancer:
- Choose a healthy diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and eat less red and processed meats. These actions may reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer and other diseases.
- Do not smoke. If you currently smoke, quit. Avoid exposure to second hand smoke. For more information on quitting smoking, visit the NYS Smoker’s Quitline at www.nysmokefree.com or call 1-866-NY-QUITS.
- Talk with your health care provider about recommended screenings for other types of cancer.
A Family History Of Breast Cancer
Having someone in your family with breast cancer doesnt automatically mean your own risk is increased. For most people, having a relative with breast cancer does not increase their risk.
However, a small number of women and men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history.
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Reproductive History Estrogen Is The Main Hormone Associated With Breast Cancer Estrogen Affects The Growth Of Breast Cells Experts Believe That It Plays An Important Role In The Growth Of Breast Cancer Cells As Well The Type Of Exposure And How Long Cells Are Exposed To Estrogen Affects The Chances That Breast Cancer Will Develop
The start of menstruation is called menarche. Early menarche is when menstruation starts at an early age . Starting your period early means that your cells are exposed to estrogen and other hormones for a greater amount of time. This increases the risk of breast cancer.
Menopause occurs as the ovaries stop making hormones and the level of hormones in the body drops. This causes a woman to stop menstruating. If you enter menopause at a later age , it means that your cells are exposed to estrogen and other hormones for a greater amount of time. This increases the risk for breast cancer. Likewise, menopause at a younger age decreases the length of time breast tissue is exposed to estrogen and other hormones. Early menopause is linked with a lower risk of breast cancer.
Late pregnancy or no pregnancies
Pregnancy interrupts the exposure of breast cells to circulating estrogen. It also lowers the total number of menstrual cycles a woman has in her lifetime.
Women who have their first full-term pregnancy after the age of 30 have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women who have at least one full-term pregnancy at an earlier age. Becoming pregnant at an early age reduces breast cancer risk.
The more children a woman has, the greater the protection against breast cancer. Not becoming pregnant at all increases the risk for breast cancer.
Who Should Get Screened
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that females aged 5074 years who are at average risk of developing breast cancer should go for screening every 2 years.
Those aged 4049 years, particularly those with a higher risk of breast cancer, should speak to their doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing regular screening.
Doctors tend to use a mammogram to screen people for breast cancer. A mammogram is a breast X-ray that can help detect breast cancer early on, before it starts to produce symptoms.
Other exams available for people at a higher risk of breast cancer include:
There are both risks and benefits associated with regularly screening for breast cancer. Many people conclude that the benefits outweigh the risks, but getting screened is a personal decision.
The risks of screening for breast cancer include:
- False positives: A false positive occurs when a test result falsely suggests that a person has cancer. False positives can prompt additional tests, which may cause anxiety and can be expensive and time consuming.
- Overtreatment: Some cancers are benign and do not go on to cause symptoms or other problems. Treating these types of cancers is called overtreatment, and it can lead to unnecessary side effects, expense, and anxiety.
- False negatives: A false negative occurs when a test result misses the presence of a cancer. False negatives can delay diagnosis and treatment.
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Breast Cancer Survival Death Rates
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer according to the ACS.
The society estimates that about 40,450 women and 440 men will likely die of breast cancer in 2016, but significantly more patients will defeat the disease. In fact, breast cancer deaths have been declining annually since about 1989, especially among women under age 50. Regular screenings, early detection and better treatments are credited for improved prognosis.
It is estimated there are currently more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone.
According to the ACS:
- The 5-year relative survival rate for women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer is close to 100%.
- For women with stage II breast cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 93%.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for stage III breast cancers is about 72%. But often, women with these breast cancers can be successfully treated.
- Breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body are more difficult to treat and tend to have a poorer outlook. Metastatic, or stage IV breast cancers, have a 5-year relative survival rate of about 22%. Still, there are often many treatment options available for women with this stage of breast cancer.
How Can Breast Cancer Be Treated
Surgery is usually required to remove breast cancer. Today, breast-conserving surgery is possible in 70 percent of cases. Usually the lymph nodes under the armpit are also removed. If the tumours are already larger than three centimetres, the patient receives chemotherapy before the operation to reduce the size of the tumours. After breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy is absolutely necessary: this kills all cancer cells that may not have been removed. Sometimes, however, a better aesthetic result is achieved if the breast is first amputated and later reconstructed.
There are also various cases in which a mastectomy, also called ablation or mastectomy, is unavoidable, for example in the case of larger tumours, when the cancer has already spread far into the milk ducts or has a connection to the nipple. Amputation is followed by breast reconstruction, either with the bodys own tissue or an implant.
Radiotherapy is only used as the only treatment in exceptional cases, for example when a woman does not want an operation. Radiation is mandatory after breast-conserving surgery, but not in all cases after amputation. It usually begins six to eight weeks after the operation, unless chemotherapy is first followed by radiotherapy.
If the tumour contains the protein HER2, its growth can be slowed down with antibody therapy. This involves the use of the cancer drug Herceptin, which has been approved for therapy since summer 2006.
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