On average, American women have a 12% risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer remains to be the most common form of cancer affecting women in the United States.
How does breast cancer develop?
Breast cancer starts to develop when some of the breast cells begin to grow abnormally. When these cells divide more rapidly than the healthy ones, they can form into a mass and may spread to other areas of the body.
The exact cause of breast cancer is still unknown though experts believe certain factors play a role in its development.
Some of the factors they have identified include a family history of the disease, being female, radiation exposure, a history of breast conditions, obesity, early menarche (before the age of 12), late menopause, and postmenopausal hormonal therapy.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Each person may exhibit different signs and symptoms of breast cancer but the following are the most common:
- Lump inside the breast or underarm area
- Changes in breast size and shape
- Breast pain (usually in a specific area) that doesn’t go away
- Sudden nipple discharge
- Breast skin dimpling
- Unexplained sore or rash on the nipple
- Inversion of the nipple or other parts of the breast
- Prominent veins on the surface of the breast
What to do if you suspect you have breast cancer?
The lump inside the breast or near the armpit area is one of the most common signs of breast cancer. If you notice this and/or the other signs and symptoms, it’s best to see a specialist immediately.
Your doctor can perform a thorough physical exam. and recommend further tests to determine if the lump is cancerous and what needs to be done for it.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Aside from the physical examination, a doctor would have to do some tests to confirm the breast cancer diagnosis.
These tests may include a mammogram, breast ultrasound, biopsy (removing a sample of breast cells for testing), and breast magnetic resonance imaging.
There are several things to consider to determine the most suitable treatment option for you. Some of the factors doctors look into include the type of breast cancer, its size, stage, and grade, the sensitivity of cancer cells to hormones, your overall health, and your personal preference.
Some of the treatment options for breast cancer include breast surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
Can breast cancer be prevented?
Although there are certain factors you can’t change (e.g. a family history of breast cancer), there are things you can do to lower your risk.
Research shows that making the following lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Quitting or avoiding smoking
- Limiting your alcohol intake
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy
- Avoiding exposure to radiation (limiting to tests that are absolutely necessary) and environmental pollution
If you have a family history of breast cancer and other factors that can increase your risk, it’s important to see your doctor get screened. The earlier breast cancer is detected and treated, the better is the outcome.
Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville has experienced surgeons who partner with patients, their referring physician, and area hospitals to create the best individual treatment plan for each breast cancer patient. For more details about Premier Surgical Breast Cancer Services, please visit https://www.premiersurgical.com/premier-surgical-services/breast-cancer-surgery/.