Breast cancer is a very frequent disease in women. Although it is impossible to know who it will affect, because many risk factors cannot be changed, there are things that you can do to have control over your body. Educate yourself and learn about the details for early detection — these small actions can save your life!
In this article, we will provide certain useful information on breast cancer. In order to detect breast cancer early, you need to know what this diseases is, what its risk factors are, why early detection is necessary, and what practices and treatment methods it entails. If you want to know more, we encourage you to continue reading.
First Things First: What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is produced by the development of a malignant tumor that begins in the cells of the mammary gland. By malignant tumor, we mean those tumor cells that are produced in the breast’s gland tissue and invade the rest of the healthy tissue that surrounds it.
Why Is it Important to Detect it as Soon as Possible?
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 16% of female cancer cases are diagnosed as breast cancer. This is considered to be the most frequent kind of cancer in women. That is why you need to take special care in detecting this disease on time. Obviously, the sooner you detect it, the greater the probability is to start the necessary treatments and be cured. To be clear, detecting this disease early can mark the difference between life and death.
Breast cancer is a disease that does not show visible symptoms in the beginning. This is the best time to attack it. According to the American Cancer Association – reiterating what we said above -, almost all cases that are detected and treated early can be cured. It has been proven that doing early detection campaigns is highly effective and has reduced the number of deaths from this disease.
As we can see, early detection is essential. The first step is to educate yourself and know what you can do to be prepared.
Know the Risk Factors
A risk factor is that element that increases the possibilities of suffering from this disease. It is necessary to specify that having one or more risk factors does not mean that you have or will develop this disease. These are simply indications that allow you to be in one of the groups that measure the risk. Having an account of them allows you to tell your doctor so that they can take action. It is important to know if you are part of the population at risk and what care you should take as a result.
Within the risk factors, there are changeable and non-changeable factors. Although there is no direct relation that has been proven between changeable factors and the disease, there are studies that show a certain correlation between them. By knowing them, you can make the necessary changes in your life.
- Being a woman: The main risk factor for this disease is belonging to the feminine gender. Men can develop breast cancer because they have mammary glands, but their probabilities are much less than in women.
- Being older than 55: Another unchangeable risk factor is age. With age, the risk of developing breast cancer increases. Two out of every three patients with invasive breast cancer are older than 55.
- Having a genetic predisposition: Genetics are the third risk factor. Having a family history of breast cancer immediately implies a more rigorous control for early detection. They calculate that 5 to 10% of breast cancer is hereditary. According to the American Cancer Association, having or having had a blood related relative that has suffered from this disease doubles the possibilities of having this disease at any time in their life.
- Having a personal history of breast cancer: This is another unchangeable risk factor. A woman that has already suffered from this disease is more likely than the average woman to develop breast cancer again.
- Not having kids: Women that have not gestated and given birth to children up to the age of 30 have a great possibility of having breast cancer.
- Not breast feeding: Having gone through the lactation process also reduces the probability of suffering from this type of cancer.
Within the changeable risk factors, there are obesity (especially post menopause), tobacco use, lack of exercise, and estrogen therapy for menopause.
Do Self Exams
After the age of 20, you should do self breast exams. Doing this type of breast exam regularly allows you to know the shape and how your health breast is made up. So, if you find any kind of change, it will be easy to detect it. Self exams are not a detection method on their own. You should always consult your doctor if you find anything or if you are unsure about something.
Knowing your own body and breasts can allow you to detect abnormalities like bulges, inflammation, secretions, increases in temperature, changes in the size or shape, pain, changes in skin color, and change in the nipple color and around it. If you are unsure about how to do these checks, ask your doctor to show you the proper way to do these self exams.
Do Clinical Exams
Between the ages of twenty and forty, it is necessary to do clinical breast exams with your doctor. Between these ages, we suggest doing exams every three years.
Do a Mammogram
After forty, it’s necessary to do a clinical breast exam and a mammogram a year. A mammogram is a study of an image via x-rays that explores the consistency and formation of the mammary gland. It is done through a medical order. You should take it with you when you get so that a professional can evaluate the results.
Where and How to Do a Clinical Exam and a Mammogram
Request an appointment with your gynecologist. Besides answering all of your questions on the subject and the risk factors that are involved, you can learn how to do self exams and they will do the corresponding clinical exams
Find a doctor that you feel comfortable with and take advantage of the space that they give you in the consultation in order to ask all the questions that you find relevant. They will keep track of the frequency that you have done the different analyses and will instruct you to do a mammogram when necessary.
So, as you can see, breast cancer detection requires simple actions that we should all keep in mind in order to stay healthy. How do you control it? Do you know how to do a self exam? Do you see your gynecologist at the suggested frequency?