Relationships With Friends And Family
It’s not always easy to talk about cancer, either for you or your family and friends. You may sense that some people feel awkward around you or avoid you.
Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. However, don’t be afraid to tell them that you need some time to yourself, if that’s what you need.
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- Healthtalkonline: How breast cancer affects families
Avoid Birth Control Pills Particularly After Age 35 Or If You Smoke
Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer not to mention unwanted pregnancy so theres also a lot in its favor. If youre very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.
Where Breast Cancer Starts
Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple . Some start in the glands that make breast milk . Men have these ducts and glands, too, even though they aren’t normally functional. There are also types of breast cancer that start in other types of breast cells, but these are less common.
Although many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast, not all do. There are other symptoms of breast cancer you should watch for and report to a health care provider.
Its also important to understand that most breast lumps are benign and not cancer . Benign breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast and they are not life threatening. Any breast lump or change needs to be checked by a health care provider to determine whether it is benign or malignant and whether it might impact your future cancer risk.
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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 .
Find Out Your Family History
Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so its important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer or if you have multiplefamily members who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.
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Tests At The Breast Cancer Clinic
If you have suspected breast cancer you’ll be referred to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This referral will be because of your symptoms or because your mammogram has shown an abnormality,
Mammogram and breast ultrasound
If you have symptoms and have been referred to a specialist breast unit by your GP, you’ll probably be invited to have a mammogram if you are over 35 years old. This is an X-ray of your breasts. You may also need an ultrasound scan.
If your cancer was detected through the BreastCheck screening programme, you may need another mammogram or ultrasound scan.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts. It helps to determine the nature of a lump or of the abnormality. It may be needed to find out if a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.
Your breasts are made up of thousands of tiny glands that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher concentration of breast cells than other breast tissue, making it denser.
Dense breast tissue can make a mammogram difficult to read. Lumps or areas of abnormal tissue are harder to spot.
Younger women tend to have denser breasts. This is why mammography is not routinely performed in women under 35 years. As you get older, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts decreases and is replaced by fat. This means your breasts become less dense.
What Is Breast Cancer In Men
Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it, too. Many people do not realize that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas.
Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.
To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see Cancer Basics.
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Estrogen Exposure And Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding for over 1 year appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Extended exposure to estrogen appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.
This could be due to a person starting their periods earlier or entering menopause at a later than average age. Between these times, estrogen levels are higher.
Breastfeeding, especially for over 1 year, appears to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. This is possibly due to the drop in estrogen exposure that follows pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Breast Lumps And Pain Self
- Limit your intake of caffeine in coffee and soft drinks, theophyllines in tea, and theobromine in chocolate. Although the role of these methylxanthines is controversial, some women report improvement in pain when they limit these.
- Daily vitamin E can reduce fibrocystic changes. Avoid doses higher than 600 mg per day.
- Wear a well-fitted bra or sports bra for support, especially if you have large breasts. You may want to wear a comfortable bra to bed.
- Apply warm compresses to your breasts for pain relief.
- Over-the-counter pain medication may help.
- Make note, and avoid, any foods that may seem to cause the pain.
- Keep a diary of pain, documenting frequency and severity for at least a 2-month period. This may be enough to convince you and your doctor that the pain is cyclic and not severe enough to warrant medications that may have bothersome side effects.
- Injury: If you suffer an injury to your breast, apply an ice pack for 20 minutes just as you would for any other bruise. Do not let the ice touch your skin directly. You can use a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. You may take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen .
- Mastitis: Breast infections require treatment by a doctor. After you see a doctor, try pain medication, frequent feedings of your infant and warm compresses.
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Types Of Breast Cancer
There are two categories that reflect the nature of breast cancer:
- Noninvasive cancer is cancer that hasnt spread from the original tissue. This is referred to as stage 0.
- Invasive cancer is cancer thats spread to surrounding tissues. These are categorized as stages 1, 2, 3, or 4.
The tissue affected determines the type of cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the lining of the milk ducts. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma is cancer in the lobules of the breast. The lobules are where milk is produced.
- Sarcoma is cancer in the breasts connective tissue. This is a rare type of breast cancer.
When you visit your doctor with concerns about breast pain, tenderness, or a lump, there are common tests they might perform.
Breast Lumps And Pain Medications
When nonmedical treatment fails to control cyclic breast pain, your health care professional may prescribe birth control pills or danazol . Be sure to ask about possible side effects of these medications and report them to your doctor if you experience them.
- Many other drugs have been tried in the treatment of cyclic breast pain and have been found not to be useful or are generally not recommended because of their side effects.
- Noncyclic breast pain is managed by treating the underlying cause. If a mass or lump is found, it is checked and treated. When your breast pain is caused by chest wall tenderness, it is treated with anti-inflammatory medication or rarely by steroid injections.
- If no cause for the noncyclic pain is found, a pain treatment protocol for cyclic pain is usually tried and often found to be successful.
- For simple mastitis without an abscess, oral antibiotics are prescribed. The antibiotic chosen will depend on the clinical situation, your doctor’s preference, and your medication allergies, if any. This medicine is safe to use while breastfeeding and will not harm the baby.
- Chronic mastitis in nonbreastfeeding women is more complicated. Recurrent episodes of mastitis are common. Occasionally this type of infection responds poorly to antibiotics. Therefore, close follow-up with your doctor is mandatory.
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Urgent Advice: You Should See Your Gp If You Notice:
- a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.
What Would You Like The Lingerie/intimates Industry To Provide To Better Support Survivors And People Undergoing Treatment
I would like the lingerie and intimates industry to realize that not all bodies are the same and that those like ours deserve flattering intimate wear as well. The industry could incorporate bras that are made for women post-mastectomy, who choose not to have traditional reconstruction, and bras that are made with unique cup sizes in mind.
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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:
What Are The Most Important Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
“A previous history of breast cancer, a significant family history of the disease , and specific conditions such as atypical hyperplasia and LCIS that are only detected when breast tissue is biopsied and examined microscopically,” explained Dr. Freya Schnabel, the director of breast surgery at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone in New York City.
Schnabel noted that these risk factors have different magnitudes, and you should try to discuss with your doctor what makes a family history significant .
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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.
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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Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Do you know the stage of the cancer?
- If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
- Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
- Based on the stage of the cancer, how long do you think Ill live?
- Do you know if my cancer has any of these proteins: estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or the HER2 protein?
- What does it mean if my cancer has any of these proteins?
- What will happen next?
There are many ways to treat breast cancer.
Surgery and radiation are used to treat cancer in a specific part of the body . They do not affect the rest of the body.
Chemotherapy, hormone treatment, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy drugs go through the whole body. They can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body.
Doctors often use more than one treatment for breast cancer. The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The cancer’s stage and grade
- If the cancer has specific proteins, like the HER2 protein or hormone receptors
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your age
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
Breast Discomfort And Pain
Women may feel discomfort and pain as the cancer grows and spreads in the breast. Cancer cells do not cause pain but as they grow they cause pressure or damage to surrounding tissue. A large tumor can grow into or invade the skin and cause painful sores or ulcers. It can also spread into the chest muscles and ribs causing obvious pain.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Like many conditions, risk factors for breast cancer fall into the categories of things you can control and things that you cannot control. Risk factors affect your chances of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a certain disease.
Controllable risk factors for breast cancer
- Alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages daily have an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.
- Body weight. Being obese is a risk factor for breast cancer. It is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Breast implants. Having silicone breast implants and resulting scar tissue make it harder to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. It is best to have a few more images to improve the examination. There is also a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma that is associated with the implants.
- Choosing not to breastfeed. Not breastfeeding can raise the risk.
- Using hormone-based prescriptions. This includes using hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than five years and taking certain types of birth control pills.
Non-controllable risk factors for breast cancer