Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women today. One in every eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. The chances of developing breast cancer increase with age. At age 50, the chances of developing breast cancer are 1 in 50. And, by age 85, the chances have increased to 1 in 8.
There are two common kinds of breast cancer, ductal and lobular. Either kind can be invasive (spreading) or non-invasive. Tumors can develop in one or both breasts. In ductal cancer, the malignant cells grow along the ducts or thin tubes connecting the lobes of the breast to the nipple. Invasive ductal cancer is the most common of all breast cancers. In lobular cancer, the cancer cells develop within the lobules of the milk-secreting glands at the end of the ducts. Lobular cancer is more likely to appear in both breasts.
KNOW THE RISK FACTORS
- having a mother, grandmother, sister or aunt who develop breast cancer
- having a history of hyperplasia (atypical cell growth)
- starting menstruation before age 12
- going through menopause late, after age 55
- never giving birth, or giving birth after age 35
- eating a high-fat diet
Why you should be concerned about Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The breast tumors are not lethal themselves, it’s the spreading of the cancerous cells throughout the body’s lymph system and bloodstream that kills. However, if caught early, most cases of breast cancer can usually be treated successfully.
RECOGNIZE THE WARNING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- A lump or thickening in the breast or armpit
- Any flattening or indentation of the skin of the breast
- Any puckering, pitting or dimpling of the breast skin
- Any change in the position, size or color of the breast
- Clear or bloody discharge from a nipple
- A retracted nipple
- Redness of the breast skin
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Since not much can be done about most of the risk factors for breast cancer it’s critical to screen regularly for the cancer and to be alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
- Perform a monthly breast self-exam so you will be able to recognize any changes in the way your breasts look and feel. Most breast lumps are discovered by the woman herself. A breast self-exam should be performed each month, about one week after menstruation. Also, a yearly breast exam should be conducted by your doctor.
- Have regular mammograms performed. Mammography, an X-ray procedure, is an excellent way to detect tumors before they are detectable by a physical examination. A baseline mammogram should be performed around age 40. After age 40, have a mammogram done once every one to two years. And after age 50, you should have a mammogram done every year. If you are younger than 40 and have a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may want to perform a mammogram sooner than age 40. Mammography is also used as a tool to investigate lumps in the breast or armpit, discharge from the nipple, thickening in the breast or puckering or dimpling of the breast skin.
- Eat a low-fat dieticon.
- Breast-feed your infant. Breast-feeding for more than four months has been associated with lower instances of breast cancer.