In the United States, breast cancer has become the most common cancer diagnosed in women, and the second leading cause of cancer death, aside from lung cancer. According to U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics, studies suggest that every 1 in 8 (about 12%) women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, resulting in 268,600 new cases each year. However, with today’s advanced technology and findings, the fight against breast cancer has never been stronger, or perhaps as successful. As the general public, it is our right and responsibility to educate ourselves so that we are well-aware of the facts and precautionary steps we need to know and take to provide early detection and change the future of breast cancer.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer can be referred to as an uncontrolled growth of breast cells, often seen as a tumor developed in the breast. It is created out of a genetic abnormality that can happen as a result of the aging process or life, in general. While most cells have the ability to filter themselves out, these mutations deter from the normal process of cell growth, by turning certain genes “on” and “off” as they please. While it can begin in different parts of the breast, breast cancer is most often found in the milk ducts. Typically, tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly and may be not as invasive; however, some are aggressive and grow much more quickly, posing a greater risk to one’s health and wellbeing. Though women are most often diagnosed, breast cancer can affect anyone, even men.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Many symptoms are associated with breast cancer and include:

  • Lump: A thickened area in or near the breast or underarm. They are usually painless, but may cause a prickly sensation. Some lumps, however, may not always be visible or felt initially without a mammogram.
  • Swelling: An inflamed area in the armpit or collarbone, connected to the lymph nodes. It may progress before a lump appears, signaling an aggressive type of inflammatory breast cancer.
  • Pain: A tender area in the breast. Although usually painless, pain or tender lumps could present a warning sign.
  • Breast/Nipple Changes: A noticeable area on the breast that has changed: size, color, contour, texture, or temperature. A reddish, pitted surface could be a sign of advanced breast cancer.
  • Nipple Discharge: A noticeable amount of unusual discharge from the nipple. It could be clear, bloody, or have a different color, often caused by benign conditions.

Potential Risk Factors

When considering one’s breast cancer risk, it is important to remember that most people who develop breast cancer have no obvious risk factors and no family history of breast cancer. However, here are a few factors that could contribute to it:

  • Age: Though breast cancer can be found in young people, the risk has shown to increase as a person ages, with most cancers developing in those older than 50.
  • Personal History: If a woman has had breast cancer in the past, specifically in one breast, she will have a higher risk of developing cancer again whether it be a new kind or in both breasts.
  • Family History: Though not always a guarantee, genetics could play into whether or not one will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, based on his or her family’s history of cancer, in general.

Preventing Breast Cancer

Though breast cancer cannot always be prevented, there are lifestyle changes one can make to lower his or her risk of developing breast cancer, even those at high risk, such as limiting alcohol consumption and smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and breastfeeding.  It is advised that women, between 50 to 74 years of age, should get a mammogram every two years or as noted by their personal physician. While cancer screenings cannot prevent breast cancer, it cannot be stated enough that the earlier the detection, the better the chances they have of treating and/or surviving breast cancer.

At HealthLinc, we believe good health should be a priority for everyone. Offering services such as annual exams, acute care with convenient same day appointments and some cancer screenings, we also provide referrals for mammograms.  It is our mission to provide our patients with the care they need to live the life they deserve. To schedule an appointment, or for more information, contact us today.