Preventing Breast Cancer
During this fight against breast cancer month, we join this universal proposal to spread the word on the risks of this disease and provide information on early prevention. Remember: information is the best prevention!
Breast cancer develops within the breast tissue, primarily in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) or glands (lobular carcinoma). .
It usually begins with the formation of a small confined tumor (or lump), or as calcium deposits (micro-calcifications). Then it spreads through the channels inside the breast to the lymph nodes or by blood to other organs. The tumor can grow and invade the tissue surrounding the breast, like the skin or in the chest. The growth may be slow or accelerated depending on the type of cancer. However, not all tumors are malignant! But, even though they are benign, they provide a rigorous wake-up call.
Statistics show that two-thirds of women with breast cancer are older than 50 years of age. And a larger part of the remaining group, are between 39 and 49 years old. This is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women after lung cancer. It is also the most common cancer among women, although it also affects men to a lesser degree (1 %).
The positive aspect of this issue is that it is treatable if caught in time (within the first stage), with a life expectancy of at least 5 years more, in most cases. And half survive for more than 10 years after initial diagnosis. However, late recurrences are common. And when the disease is advanced, it is more difficult to treat and life prospects are less favorable.
Among the most important risk factors are age and family history. The risk also increases significantly for a woman who previously had breast, endometrial, ovarian or colon cancer. There is a link between this type of cancer and hormones, especially estrogen. The reproductive cycle of a woman is marked by highs and lows of both progesterone and estrogen. The chances of breast cancer increases when: a woman begins her menstruation before the age of 12, has her first child after the age of 30, reaches menopause after 55 or does not breastfeed her children. On the other hand, the fact of whether the use of birth control pills is a contributing factor is not really clear. Exposure to nuclear or therapeutic radiation is also a risk factor.
With regards to food, both obesity and excessive alcohol intake increase the risk factor. A healthy diet including aerobic exercise can help to prevent breast cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the 5-year survival rates for breast cancer in different stages are:
Stage 0: 100%
Stage I: 100%
Stage II: 93%
Stage III: 72%
Stage IV: 22%
There is no known way to prevent breast cancer, but prevention is the best way to detect the disease in time. For this reason, it is important to do breast self-examinations and visit a gynecologist for medical checkups, which include mammograms. (From the age of 35)
Self-examination is very important to detect breast anomalies. If you don’t understand how to do it, get some help from your gynecologist.
It important to self-check once a month, three to five days after your menstrual cycle.
In the early stages, breast cancer is asymptomatic but there are signs you can detect when a tumor is forming:
-A lump in the breast or armpit area that remains after the menstrual cycle. In general, they are not painful and can be difficult to detect. This is why you need two annual physicals and a mammogram every year to detect the tumor.
-Swelling in the armpit.
-Pain or tenderness in the breasts not associated with the menstrual cycle.
-Clear flattening or bleeding in the breast, which may indicate a tumor that cannot be seen or felt.
– Any change in the size, shape, texture, or temperature of the breast.
-Any area of the breast that may look different than the other. A reddish surface similar to an orange skin could be a sign of advanced cancer.
-Changes in the nipple, (retraction of the nipple, dimples, itching, burning, ulceration or unusual discharge).
The only way to confirm the existence of cancer is through medical tests, such as a biopsy. Treatment options will depend on how much the disease has progressed, as well as the conditions of the patient. If you have any doubts with regards to birth control pills or treatments to alleviate menopause; as well as self-examinations and mammograms, talk to your doctor. Remember: Be sure to share your family history of breast cancer or any other potential risk factors.
I hope this information has been helpful and interesting! See you soon!