Breast Cancer Causes & Known Risk Factors



Genetics, Hormones, Diet, & More

Like the black armbands, worn to commemorate the dead, we have all seen the ‘Pink Ribbons’ worn at sporting events and charity galas, and since the turn of the millennium, we have become increasingly aware of its tragic significance.

Breast cancer is fast becoming the most common type of cancer in the world and studies show that about one in eight women are diagnosed with it, sometime during their lifetime. Even though most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but it is becoming increasingly common even among the young.

If detected at an early stage, there is a very high chance of recovery and hence it is vital that women, regardless of their age, check their breasts regularly for any changes and consult a trained healthcare expert regarding any anomalies. In extreme and rare cases, even men can be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer and its symptoms:

While it is true that breast cancer can come with any number of symptoms, following are the ones that are most common.

A noticeable lump or an area of thickened tissue, in one or both breasts.A sudden change in the size, shape or appearance of one or both the breasts. This includes the nipples appearing sunken into the breasts or the skin becoming dimpled. Viscous discharge from one or both nipples, which may often be streaked with blood.The area of the nipples developing rashes.Swelling or inflammation in the armpit area.

Causes:

Although the exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, we do know of factors that increase the risks for women. Among these are age, a family history of breast cancer and excessive use of alcohol. Women who are either very tall or are overweight face a higher risk, while those previously diagnosed with breast cancer are also likely to diagnosed again.

There are several types of breast cancer, which can affect different areas in the breast. Some are even non-invasive and not all types are equally dangerous. However, like other types of cancer, breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body, if not treated quickly.

Detecting and treating breast cancer:

The most commonly available method of detection involves a Mammographic screening, where an X-ray image of the breast is taken. However, it is possible in certain cases that a mammogram fails to detect some breast cancers and thus delay the intervention.

Treatment:

It is important that breast cancer like other cancers, is detected at an early stage and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body. This involves surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of these. If breast cancer is not detected in time, it spreads to other parts of the body and becomes metastatic and incurable. At which point, the aim of the treatment is to achieve symptom relief.

Prevention is better than cure:

Even though the prevention of breast cancer now, is not an exact science, there do seem to be certain health and lifestyle regimens that lower the risk of developing the symptoms. These include a healthy diet with lots of fibre and extremely low intakes of saturated fats and alcohol, coupled with a regular exercise. Studies have shown that there does seem to be positive correlation between obesity and breast cancer, especially during menopause.

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