The Peril of
Breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally.
Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it's far more common in women.
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in all over the world. But breast cancer rates have fallen in recent years, though doctors aren't certain why. Still, for many women, breast cancer is the disease they fear most.
Public support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased and the number of deaths has been declining, thanks to earlier detection, new treatments and a better understanding of the disease.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:
* A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
* Bloody discharge from the nipple
* Change in the size or shape of a breast
* Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
* Inverted nipple
* Peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
* Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange.
If you find a lump or other change in your breast even if a recent mammogram was normal make an appointment with your doctor.
It's not clear what causes breast cancer. Doctors know that breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do. The accumulating cells form a tumour that may spread (metastasize) through your breast, to your lymph nodes or to other parts of your body.
Breast cancer most often begins with cells in the milk-producing ducts. Doctors call this type of breast cancer invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer may also begin in the lobules (invasive lobular carcinoma) or cells within the breast.
The majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
Doctors estimate that 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutation passed through generations of a family. A number of inherited defective genes that can increase the likelihood of breast cancer have been identified. The most common are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), both of which increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer or other cancers, blood tests may help identify defective BRCA or other genes that are being passed through your family. Consider asking your doctor for a referral to a genetic counselor who can review your family health history. A genetic counselor can also discuss the benefits, risks and limitations of genetic testing with you.
A risk factor is anything that makes it more likely you'll get a particular disease. But having one or even several risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop cancer most women with breast cancer have no known risk factors other than simply being women.
* Being female. Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer.
* Increasing age. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age. Women older than 60 have a greater risk than do younger women.
* A personal history of breast cancer. If you've had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other breast.
* A family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, you have a greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Still, the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
* Beginning menopause at an older age. If you began menopause after age 55, you're more likely to develop breast cancer.
* Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer can be treated using radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Early detection is key to fighting this disease. Ask your doctor to show you how to do a breast self-exam to check for any lumps or other unusual signs in your breasts. A breast self-exam can't prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo each month and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.
Source: Mayo Clinic
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