This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
In the United States, breast cancer accounts for 30% of new diagnoses in women each year. And while both men and women can be diagnosed with breast cancer, the disease occurs more in women than men.
The number of people diagnosed with breast cancer every year is around 240,000 people, according to the CDC, and approximately 42,000 women die of the disease compared to 500 men.
Ladies, this is why educating ourselves about breast cancer and understanding its risk factors, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options can help save our lives and those we love; remember, prevention is always better than a cure. Keep reading to get the 411 on breast cancer and learn practical tips on how to keep your breasts happy and healthy.
What is Breast Cancer?
The breast has different parts, including the lobules, blood vessels, nipples, lymph vessels, ducts, and connective tissue. Within the breast, lobules serve as the glands responsible for milk production. At the same time, ducts function as conduits transporting milk to the nipple. Connective tissue encases and supports these structures, consisting of fibrous and fatty components.
Breast cancer happens because of abnormal growth of cells within the breast tissue. There are many different types of breast cancers, characterized by which cells turn into cancer in the breast. While most breast cancers originate in either the ducts or lobules, breast cancer can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic vessels outside of the breast, a process known as metastasis.
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Types of Breast Cancer:
The most prevalent forms of breast cancer include:
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma: This type commences in the ducts and progresses beyond their confines into adjacent breast tissues. Invasive cancer cells from this variety may also metastasize to distant body sites.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma: Originating within the lobules, cancer cells from this subtype extend into nearby breast tissues. Like invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma can spread to other body parts.
Additionally, several less common types of breast cancer exist, such as Paget's disease, medullary carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, and inflammatory breast cancer.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) represents a breast disorder that can potentially progress to invasive breast cancer. In this condition, cancer cells are confined to the lining of the ducts and have not yet invaded surrounding breast tissues.
Risk Factors Of Breast Cancer?
Many factors have been attributed to the cause of breast cancer, such as:
- Hormonal Issues: According to the NIH, long-term exposure to estrogen and progesterone, which are hormones made by women's ovaries, can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. Exposure is determined by early menstruation, late menopause, having kids late, and never giving birth. Those who have undergone hormone therapy are also at risk for developing breast cancer.
- Lifestyle Choices: Those who are obese, drink alcohol excessively, or live a sedentary lifestyle are also at risk for developing breast cancer.
- Family History: Women with a first-degree relative, such as a mother, daughter, or sister, with a history of breast cancer have a higher chance of breast cancer.
- Aging: The risk of breast cancer increases with age; most breast cancers are diagnosed after 50.
- Genetic Mutations: Inherited genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of breast cancer.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
- Breastfeed if you can.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Don't smoke or quit smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet.
- Know your risk factors by learning about your family history.
- Practice your self-breast exams and get screened regularly, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer or have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations.
If you are worried about breast cancer, please consult your doctor so they can give you more personalized guidance and care.