As the second most common cancer among women, preventing breast cancer is on the top of mind for medical professionals. Around one in every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Those are startling statistics! Additionally, over 270, 000 new cases of diagnosed breast cancer are expected in 2020 and over 40, 000 are expected to die. We recognize that women are more exposed and prone to certain illnesses like breast cancer and are here to help you diagnose and understand these issues. Breast cancer prevention starts with you and initiating healthy habits that encourage a healthy lifestyle.
What Is Breast Cancer & Are There Any Symptoms
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow abnormally and divide more rapidly to form a mass. It typically begins to develop in the breast ducts but can spread outside the breast into lymph nodes and blood vessels. If it escalates to other parts of your body, it is considered metastasized. Both men and women can develop breast cancer but it’s most common in women. According to The National Breast Cancer Foundation, there are many different types of breast cancer prevention are triple-negative, invasive ductal carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ, inflammatory, breast cancer during pregnancy, metastatic and those less common. The most common form for breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS.
This non-invasive form of breast cancer is located in the breast milk duct lining. It is considered early-stage breast cancer and is very treatable. However, if left untreated, it will likely spread to other surrounding tissue. Breast cancer death rates are the highest rates of all cancers for women in the U.S. The risk of developing breast cancer doubles if a woman has a first-degree relative who has had it before. For this reason, you should be aware of the warning signs of breast cancer. Although they can be slightly different for the typical kinds of breast cancer, there are several common symptoms for all types:
- A breast lump that is present or the skin is stiffened that feels different than the surrounding tissue.
- Other skin changes that include redness, swelling, pitting, or dimpling
- Nipple discharge that is not breast milk
- General pain in any part of the breast
- Nodes or lumps that can be felt in the breast
- A newly inverted nipple
- A change in the size and shape of the breast
- The skin surrounding the nipple starts peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking
Breast cancer is caused by lifestyle, hormonal, and environmental factors like:
- Being female
- Getting older
- Family history of breast cancer
- Personal history of breast cancer and breast conditions
- Inherited gene mutations
- Exposure to radiation
- Starting your menstrual cycle at a young age
- Starting menopause at an older age
- No pregnancies
- Alcohol intake
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy
How to Prevent Breast Cancer From Developing
Unfortunately, breast cancer can be inherited and medical doctors estimate that five to ten percent of gene mutations are passed through generations. These mutations for breast cancer have been identified as BRCA1 and BRCA2 and usually develop in younger women. Both greatly increase the risk of developing both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Your doctor will recommend a blood test if it runs in your family as a breast cancer prevention method. However, those with the BRCA1 mutation are 72% more likely to develop breast cancer. For those with BRCA2, the risk is 69%. If this is the case, you may want to also ask your doctor for a referral to a genetic counselor as well. Still, around 85% of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of it. That means that any woman is at risk of developing the disease and should consider ways to prevent breast cancer. The good news is that there are a number of proactive ways that you can:
- Breast cancer screening – Talk to your doctor about breast cancer screenings like mammograms and clinical exams. A mammogram is when a skilled medical professional takes an X-ray picture of the breast to detect early signs of breast cancer. The Center for Disease Control indicates that over 65% of women have had a mammogram. Having a regular mammogram is the best tool doctors have available for breast cancer prevention.
- Self-exam – Becoming familiar with your own breasts is one of the best ways to identify if something is off in your breast health. Taking the time to occasionally inspect your breast for changes or lumps can result in early detection. If you conduct a self-exam and notice these changes, contact your doctor immediately.
- Moderate alcohol – Drinking alcohol excessively can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer. Moderating your alcohol intake to no more than one drink in a day will help prevent breast cancer.
- Exercise – Physical activity for at least 30 minutes is one of the best ways to stay healthy in general.
- Hormone therapy – If you are receiving combination hormone therapy, you may be increasing your risk of breast cancer. Postmenopausal therapy is meant to ease the signs and symptoms of menopause. For reduced risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dosage available for a shorter amount of time.
- Weight – Maintaining a healthy weight by reducing the number of calories you consume and increasing exercise regimen is an effective way to prevent breast cancer.
- Diet – A healthy diet is also a great way to reduce your breast cancer risk. The Mayo Clinic indicates that a Mediterranean diet has been proven to reduce breast cancer due to its healthy ingredients like olive oil, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts.
Those with a higher risk of breast cancer may be placed on medication therapy at the recommendation of their doctors using:
- Chemoprevention – Preventative medication that blocks estrogen can reduce the risk of breast cancer. However, there are a number of side effects so doctors only reserve these methods for those with very high risk.
- Surgery – Although drastic, preventative surgery is an effective preventative method for breast cancer and is only used for those women at very high risk.
If you are taking birth control, you may not be aware that studies have indicated a link between hormonal contraception and breast cancer. The Mayo Clinic states that the risk is very small but decreases once you stop taking them. Always be vigilant and mindful of the changes in your breast and how your lifestyle may play a role in increasing your likelihood of developing breast cancer. You should discuss these methods with your doctor if you are at risk.
Book Your Next Breast Screening Appointment Today
When was the last time you had a breast screening? Regular screenings your doctor recommended are based on your age. Breast Care Center Miami provides general and preventative health services to women and men located in Miami. We are committed to providing high quality, personalized health care services. With over nine years of medical experience, we take a comprehensive approach to treating all of our patients year-round. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your last breast screening or are unsure when you should have one, make an appointment today to discuss your options.