Breast cancer, which develops in the breast tissue, is the most common form of cancer among women in the United States and worldwide. Approximately one in eight women, or 12.4%, will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Although far less common than in women, breast cancer can also develop in men.
In 2019, approximately 268,600 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, with an additional 62,930 new cases of in situ, or non-invasive breast cancer. An estimated 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is approximately 1 in 883. The five-year survival rate for all breast cancer patients is 90%.
The incidence of breast cancer has dropped dramatically since 2000. One theory is that this decline is due to the reduction use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) made from horse urine after publication of the Women’s Health Initiative Study, which suggested a connection between the synthetic hormones and breast cancer. Death rates started declining since about 1990, in part due to increased awareness, better screening, early detection and continually improving treatment options.
Despite these encouraging statistics, about 41,760 American women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2019. Women under 50 have experienced the largest decreases. Breast cancer death rates are second only to lung cancer rates among American women.
Breast Cancer Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis
The signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- Pain in the armpits or breast that does not change with your monthly cycle
- Bloody nipple discharge
- Inverted nipple
- Orange-peel texture or dimpling of breast skin
- Breast pain or sore nipple
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
- A change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple
- Peeling, flaking or scaling of skin on the breast or nipple
Not all breast lumps are cancerous. However, if you notice a lump or thickening, you should visit VIVVA for a thorough examination.
Breast cancer is diagnosed during a physical exam, through self-examination of the breast, mammography, ultrasound testing and biopsy.
Patients in which the disease may have spread may also experience bone pain, shortness of breath or yellow skin.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Breast cancer usually starts in the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules and then spreads to other breast tissue. It can eventually invade the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. The exact causes are often unclear, however, the following risk factors increase a woman’s risk of contracting the disease.
- Age—the risk of breast cancer increases as you get older. When you are 20, the risk is 0.36%, but by the time you reach age 70, that risk is 3.84%.
- Genetics—if you have a relative with breast cancer, you chance also increase. Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes also have a higher chance of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. You can inherit these genes from your parents.
- A history of breast cancer or lumps—Once you have had breast cancer, it is likely to recur. Some types of noncancerous lumps, including atypical ductal hyperplasia, also increases your chances
- Women with dense breast tissue are more likely to receive a breast cancer diagnosis
- Extended estrogen exposure appears to increase the risk of breast cancer while breastfeeding appears to reduce it.
- Weight gain after menopause increases your chances. High sugar intake may also play a role.
- High alcohol consumption also plays a role in breast cancer development, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
- Radiation treatments for different cancers may increase your risk of developing breast cancer later in life
- Hormone treatments-oral contraceptives may slightly increase your risk of breast cancer, according to the NCI. Studies have also indicated the estrogen-progesterone therapy is related to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments
Treatment options depend on a variety of factors including the size and stage of the tumor, your age and overall health, sensitivity to hormones and your personal preference.
Local treatments target the tumor without affecting the rest of the body. These include procedures such as mastectomy, which removes the entire breast or breast-conserving surgeries such a lumpectomy that removes only the tumor and some surrounding breast tissue and lymph nodes. Radiation therapy is a highly targeted and effective way to target cancer cells that may linger following surgery.
Systemic treatments involve the use of drugs that can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body. The can be administered by mouth or placed directly into the bloodstream.
The type of breast cancer also determines what treatments may be used, including chemotherapy, hormone-blocking therapy and targeted therapy such as antibodies that work on specific types of cancer cells and are less likely to harm surrounding tissue.
Early detection and prompt treatment is the key to successful outcomes for breast cancer. We encourage you to schedule an annual physical exam with one of the doctors at VIVAA, to discuss your risks and possible screening for breast cancer.
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