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General Information about Breast Cancer

Although breast cancer is one of the more well-known and frequently discussed malignancies, there are still a lot of myths surrounding it.

What Is Breast Cancer?

In most cases, breast cancer begins either in your milk glands (called lobular carcinoma) or in the ducts that carry milk to your nipple. In addition to growing in your breast, it can spread to nearby lymph nodes and to other organs through your bloodstream. It is possible for cancer to grow around your breast and invade surrounding tissue, such as the skin and chest wall.

The spread of breast cancer varies from patient to patient. Some cancers take years to spread beyond the breast, while others spread quickly.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Lump or thickened portion in/near the breast or underarm
  • A lump – even if it is extremely small
  • Change in the size of the breast, shape
  • Redness of skin, dimpling, puckering
  • Distorted shape or position of the nipple
  • Bloody or clear nipple discharge
  • A hard, marble-sized area under the skin

Controllable risk factors for breast cancer

Physical Activity: The less you exercise, the better your chances.  Weight and Diet: Being overweight after menopause increases the chances of it.

Alcohol: Drink regularly – especially if he drinks more than once a day

Reproductive History: First childbirth after 30 years old. They don’t breastfeed. not a full-term pregnancy.

Hormone Intake: You may be more likely if you:

Use hormone replacement therapy (menopausal estrogen and progesterone  for at least 5 years).

Use specific birth control methods, such as birth control pills, injections, implants, IUDs, skin patches, and hormone-containing vaginal rings.

Breast Cancer Prevention

These tips may help prevent breast cancer:

Control your weight: Extra pounds and weight gain as an adult raise your odds for breast cancer after menopause.
Stay active: Exercise lowers the risk. 75 minutes of heavy activity each week (or a mix). Spread it out during the week.
Skip or limit alcohol: Quit or at least limit to 1 drink a day.
Breastfeed: No breastfeeding can increase the chances of cancer.
Get screened: Regular screening increases the chances of better treatment.

Breast cancer: Who gets it?

Men can also get breast cancer, but they account for less than 1% of all cases. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women. The incidence of breast cancer in women is 1 in 8 over the course of their lifetime. A majority of cases occur in people over 55 years old.

Risk Factors of Breast Cancer

Age: Above 50 years of age
Dense breast: More connective tissue than fatty tissue causes difficulty in spotting tumors in a mammogram.

Personal history of cancer: Incidences increase benign breast conditions and previous history of breast cancer.

Family history: If a woman’s first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) has breast cancer, she is twice as likely to develop the disease. If she has two or more first-degree relatives with a history of breast cancer, her risk is at least three times higher. This is especially true if you have cancer before menopause or if both breasts are affected. A father or sibling diagnosed with breast cancer may also increase the risk.

Genes: Alterations in two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, cause breast cancer in some families. About 1 in 200 women carry her one of these genes.

Your period begins before age 12. Menstruation does not stop until the age of 55.
Radiation: If you had radiation therapy for cancers such as Hodgkin lymphoma before age 40.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Feeling a lump in the mammogram, your doctor will begin breast cancer diagnosis. They will ask you about your personal and family health history. Next, you will have to go through a breast examination and a test that includes:

Imaging Tests:
Ultrasound: Test using sound waves to create a picture of the breasts.
Mammogram: This detailed X-ray to get a better view of lumps and other problems.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This body scan uses a magnet linked to a computer to create detailed images of the insides of the breasts.
Biopsy: Test of the tissue or fluid from the breast.

Myths & Facts

Breast cancer usually begins either in your glands that make milk (called lobular carcinoma), or the ducts that carry it to the nipple (called ductal carcinoma). It can grow larger in your breast and spread to nearby lymph nodes or through your bloodstream to other organs. The cancer may grow and invade tissue around your breast, such as your skin or chest wall.

Some breast cancers take years to spread beyond your breast, while others grow and spread quickly.

MYTH: If I don’t have a family history of breast cancer, I won’t get it.

FACT: Most people diagnosed with breast cancer have no known family history.

Many people think of breast cancer as an inherited disease. But only about 5–10% of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary, meaning they’re caused by abnormal changes (or mutations) in certain genes passed from parent to child. 1 The vast majority of people who get breast cancer have no family history, suggesting that other factors must be at work, such as environment and lifestyle.

MYTH: Wearing a bra can cause breast cancer.

FACT: 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.

MYTH: Breast cancer always causes a lump you can feel.

FACT: Breast cancer might not cause a lump, especially when it first develops.

People are sometimes under the impression that breast cancer always causes a lump that can be felt during a self-exam. They might use this as a reason to skip mammograms, thinking they’ll be able to feel any change that might indicate a problem. However, breast cancer doesn’t always cause a lump. By the time it does, the cancer might have already moved beyond the breast into the lymph nodes. Although performing breast self-exams is certainly a good idea, it isn’t a substitute for regular screening with mammography.

MYTH: If you maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat healthy, and limit alcohol, you don’t have to worry about breast cancer.

FACT: Although these behaviors can help lower breast cancer risk, they can’t eliminate it.

It’s something we hear again and again from newly diagnosed women: “I eat healthy, I’m at a healthy weight, I’m 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 can’t guarantee you’ll never get the disease. There are so many examples of people who do everything right and still get breast cancer.

MYTH: Breast cancer only happens to middle-aged and older women.

FACT: Younger women can and do get breast cancer, as do men.

It is true that being female and growing older are the main risk factors for developing breast cancer. In 2017, about 4% of invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in women under age 40, while about 23% were diagnosed in women in their 50s and 27% in women ages 60 to 69. 6 While 4% might sound small, it isn’t zero: This percentage means that one in every 25 invasive breast cancer cases occurred in women under 40.

Myth: Men can’t get breast cancer.

Fact: Although less common, breast cancer is diagnosed in about 2,000 men in the U.S. each year, or about 1 percent of all new cases, according to the CDC. Armstrong says men usually detect breast cancer during a self-exam, when they find a mass, so be sure to talk to your doctor about any new growths or lumps. She adds that men who develop breast cancer may be at higher risk for carrying a BRCA mutation and should consider genetic counseling to better understand the genetic risk.

Breast Self-Examination

Here’s an important step to spot signs of breast cancer by 7 steps, 15 minutes every month.

The best time is almost 10 days after the periods as the breasts are less likely to be tender at this time. It should be done every month after the age of 20 years. Should be done even during pregnancy and even after menopause.

You may take two to three months to master the technique and to know how your breast feels the early signs of breast cancer which you would be looking for.

  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Any dimpling puckering or scaling of the skin over the breast or the nipple.
  • Rash over the skin
  • Any accentuated veins over the surface of the breast.
  • Unusual swellings of one upper arm or in the armpit.
  • Any unusual discharge from the breast.

To start the breast examination first find a private comfortable and well-lit room with a large mirror.

Relax, undress and stand in front of the mirror to start the self-breast examination.

Steps 1-4

Step 1
Stand in front of the mirror with your arms by your waist and observe any changes like changes in the size and shape of the breast, any dimpling, thickening, puckering, or wetness of the skin.
Look for any changes in the size or the position of the nipple.

Step 2
Bend slightly forward towards the mirror and again look for these changes.

Step 3
Raise your hands above and place them behind the head.
Press the hands forward and once again observe the changes.

Step 4
Lie down on a firm surface or a hard bed.
Place a folded towel under the right shoulder to feel the right vest with the left
hand.
Place a folded towel under the left shoulder to feel the left breast with the right
hand.

Steps 5-7

Step 5
To palpate the breast, the hand movement should be using the pad of three fingers.
Glide your fingers over the breast. Do not lift the breast tissue.
Cover the entire area, neck to bottom of the breast, midline of the chest to the armpit. Press to feel the entire breast tissue with three different pressures – light, medium and
deep.
To feel the most superficial to the deepest part of the breast up to the chest wall.
You could move your hand either up and down outward to inward or in a circular motion covering the entire breast.

Step 6
Feel the armpit area on both sides.

Step 7
Squeeze the nipple for any discharge – clear, milky, blood-stained or greenish or blackish discharge.

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