Breast cancer awareness campaign isn’t only a monthly campaign; it’s a life-changing – and life-saving – action that encourages and supports women to get tested for breast cancer. Being the second most common cancer among women and the second cause of death after lung cancer, breast cancer is a disease that can be treated and beaten once detected early.
What is Breast Cancer?
Just like other cancers, breast cancer develops after unusual cell mutations grow out of control. Usually, breast cancer can begin in the lobular carcinoma; the glands that produce breast milk, or in the ductular carcinoma; the ducts that transfer milk to the nipples. Breast cancer may grow further into the lymph nodes or enter the bloodstream; which raises the risk of cancer transferring to other organs. These cancer cells may target nearby tissues like the skin or chest walls.
Causes and Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
There may be underlying causes that raise the risk for some women to develop breast cancer more than others. These causes can include age and family history. Women over the age of 50 years old may develop breast cancer more than younger women. Another cause that may increase the risk of breast cancer development is family history; if first-degree relatives, like a mother or a sister, have breast cancer, a woman’s risk is doubled. There are other causes, like menstrual history and if the woman previously battled another type of cancer. 1
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Certain symptoms may appear reflecting the development of breast cancer. Some include, a lump on the breast or underarm; it can be as small as a pea or as the size of a marble, discharges, change in size and/or shape of the breast, or inflamed, scaly, or dimpled skin surrounding the breast. 1
Breast Cancer Testing
Early detection is a fundamental factor for easily treating and beating breast cancer. Women who detect breast cancer at an early stage have a 93% recovery rate. However, if breast cancer is spotted at a later stage, required treatments may be more complicated and span over several years. Based on age and risk factors, a woman is advised to do a mammogram screening – a low-dose X-ray that can help detect if there is breast cancer whether there were symptoms or not. Various medical institutions’ recommendations slightly differ; however, most recommend that women above 50 years are advised to get a mammogram annually. Women under 50 years (between 40-49 years) are advised to begin early screening, especially if they come from a family with breast cancer history. Further testing, like ultrasounds and MRIs are not a part of regular routine testing but may be required per the doctor’s request, as they may detect lumps that haven’t been spotted through the mammogram.
What can be done to lower the risk of developing Breast Cancer?
Early intervention is a strong and effective way to battle breast cancer. However, a woman can adapt a healthy routine to enhance her overall health. Lifestyle habits can help in lowering the risk of breast cancer development. These include, exercise and fitness, a healthy diet, and avoiding the use of certain skincare products. Developing studies have indicated that chemicals used in non-organic skincare products may be a factor that possibly lead to the development of cancer and other illnesses.