Everything You Should Know About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the leading cause of women’s deaths these days. We all repeatedly hear that some of our knowns have breast cancer. On average, 1 out of 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer. 
Now, the survival rates depend on which stage of cancer was diagnosed, in which part of the breast cancer started, the age of the woman, and of course, different women have different body types. 
Here, in this post, we are sharing all the essential details regarding breast cancer so that you can be aware of the disease and protect yourself and your known ones within time.

What do we mean by breast cancer?
Like any other cancer, breast cancer mutations cause abnormal cell growth. Breast cancer develops in the cells of the breast, but it can travel to other parts of your body. Breast cancer mainly starts in the lobules (milk-producing glands) or the ducts (they bring the milk from the glands to the nipples).

Symptoms of breast cancer
Breast cancer stages determine the symptoms of breast cancer. The symptoms vary from person to person and from stage to stage.
The most common breast cancer symptoms are-

  • Swelling is the entire breast or some part of the breast.
  • Pain in the breasts
  • A lump under the arm
  • A change in the appearance of the breast skin ( the skin can be reddish, flaky, pitted, or discolored)
  • inverted, dimpled, or sore nipples
  • itching or burning in the nipples
  • a breast lump or a thick tissue
  • change in the shape and size of the breast
  • discharge from the nipples (other than milk), it can even be a bloody or a clear discharge

Risk factors of breast cancer-
There are no specific causes, but there are risk factors that cause cancer in the breasts. Some of these risk factors have been with you since birth. But others develop later on, or you give rise to them.

  • Gender: Men can also have breast cancer, but being a woman puts you at a higher risk.
  • Age: People older than fifty-five years are prone to breast cancer.
  • Hereditary: If someone in your family has breast cancer, it leaves you at a lifetime risk of 55 to 75 percent of cancer.
  • Obesity and high breast density: Women with heavy weight, less fatty tissue, and fibrous tissues have more chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Alcohol: Even one single drink daily can increase your chances of breast cancer by up to ten percent. So imagine how much risk you have of developing breast cancer if you drink regularly.
  • Hormone intake: birth control pills, vaginal rings, and Intrauterine devices- put you ahead for breast cancer.
  • Early menstruation or late menopause: Too early onset of periods and late stoppage of them can also increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Not breastfeeding: Breastfeeding helps keep your baby from diseases and reduces your risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding your baby for a year or more will benefit you by lowering your risk of breast cancer.

Treatment of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer treatment varies from person to person and the stage that person is on at the time. 
Common treatments for breast cancer are-

  • Surgery: This method includes four types of surgeries Lupectomy or breast-conserving surgery, Mastectomy, sentinel lymph nodes biopsy, and modified radical Mastectomy with reconstruction. Your doctor will use the most appropriate one, depending on your condition.
  • Radiation therapy: The doctors mark the breasts with markers and then do the CT scan, which they further transfer to computers for radiotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy: This method uses a combination of drugs before or even after the surgery.
  • Hormonal therapy: Oncologists find progesterone and estrogen levels in some patients. Therefore, they treat such patients with hormonal therapy.
  • Targeted therapy– In this therapy, drugs only target the cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying.

Prevention of breast cancer
Some of the risk factors are not in your control, but you can lower other factors that are in your hands to lower the risk of breast cancer. 

  • Check your diet: A balanced diet with healthy fruits and vegetables can lower cancer risk.
  • No smoking and no alcohol: Smoking is a significant factor in causing cancers. And alcohol can increase your chances from 10 to 20 percent. So you must quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake if you do not want breast cancer.
  • Say no to birth control pills: Contraceptive pills have their benefits, but everything is good till a limit. After age 35, birth control pills can be a big push towards breast cancer. And if you smoke and you also have these pills, you can have a very high risk of breast cancer.
  • Breastfeed as much as possible: As we told you earlier, proper breastfeeding can help lower the chances of you getting cancer. So, try and feed your baby through the breasts as much as possible.
  • Focus on physical activities: You should work out and not just sit like a couch potato all day. It will help you reduce weight and manage your obesity, which can cause breast cancer.
  • Drinking Green Tea: Green tea can lower the risk of breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, skin cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Green tea is also effective against skin cancer.

Facts and Myths about breast cancer-

  • People believe that breast cancer can only occur in older women. But this is not true. Yes, we cannot deny that the chances of breast cancer are less likely to develop at a younger age, but it can occur at any age.
  • Only people with hereditary breast cancer are prone to get the disease- It is a myth. Breast cancer can also occur even if you do not have a family hereditary breast cancer.
  • Some people leave entirely out dairy products and sugar in their diet. Indeed, gaining weight can increase your weight and your risk of breast cancer. But you must have a balanced diet and not entirely reduce sugar and dairy intake.
  • People think breast cancer cannot occur while a woman is breastfeeding or pregnant. Early pregnancy and the correct way of breastfeeding reduce the risk of breast cancer, but it is false to think that while breastfeeding or being pregnant, one cannot have breast cancer. Unfortunately, many women live under this myth and ignore the symptoms and, as a result, have a higher risk of death.
  • If you think wearing black bras or tight bras will increase the risk of breast cancer. Then, you are doing nothing but not wearing your choice of undergarments just for a fake belief.

Breast cancer is widespread, but its treatment is also available now. There are multiple ways to cure breast cancer. All you have to do is check for the symptoms and go for screening if possible. Early detection and treatment of cancer can save a life.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors