Learn More About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women around the globe, Worldwide, according to Cancer Research UK, more than 1.68 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
Did you know that women have the largest risk of developing breast cancer? Each woman has unique risk factors that are specific to her. Breast cancer incidence and mortality rates generally increase with age – according to the American Cancer Society, 79% of new cases and 88% of breast cancer deaths occur in women ages 50 and older.
A woman is at an increased risk of breast cancer if she:
Speak with your doctor about your personal breast cancer risk and what steps you can take to lower that risk.
To learn more about your general risk, check out this assessment tool designed by WorldwideBreastCancer.com.
Men can get breast cancer too. Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than among women. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. Learn more about breast cancer in men at Cancer.org.
While breast cancer risks are fixed, such as your gender, age and family history, some factors associated with increased breast cancer risk can be changed, including preventing postmenopausal obesity and weight gain as an adult (especially in your 40’s and 50’s), not using hormone replacement therapy containing both estrogen/progestin hormones, and not smoking cigarette and limiting alcohol consumption.
Tips to Reduce your Risk
We can all take important steps to improve our health and reduce our risk for breast cancer, but even very health conscious people with low risk factors are still diagnosed with this disease. Early detection can improve the prognosis for survival; however, it is important to note that some breast cancers are already Stage IV at the time of initial diagnosis, meaning the cancer has already spread from the breast to other organs in the body and is incurable.
Know Your Body
Lumps and bumps are normal in every breast. You need to know ‘what is normal’ for you and be aware of changes. Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. In fact, when breast cancer first develops, there may be no symptoms at all. You should get to know your own body and breasts and if you find even a small change, call your doctor or health care provider.
Some symptoms to watch for that may indicate breast cancer include, but are not limited to:
At the onset of any of these changes you should see your health care professional as soon as possible for evaluation. Remember that most of the time, however, these changes in your breast are not cancer.
Visit Worldwide Breast Cancer’s Know Your Lemons to learn more about breast health.
Screening guidelines and media headlines about early detection can sometimes be unclear. However, it is very important for you to understand your general breast cancer risk, get an idea of what is normal for your body, and immediately report any changes in your breasts or body to your doctor. All women should speak with their doctor about their own risk factors for developing breast cancer and, based on those factors, determine what age to start screening, how frequently to get screened and what screening tests are most effective.
Before you speak to your doctor about your personal breast cancer risk and what steps you can take to lower it, check out the information below to better understand breast cancer.
Breast self-exams (BSE) Revisited
Resources for learning how to conduct your own Breast Self-Exam include information at Breastcancer.org and the American Cancer Society. Note: Women who choose to use a step-by-step approach to BSE should have their BSE technique reviewed during their physical exam by a health professional. It is okay for women to choose not to do BSE or not to do it on a regular schedule. However, by doing the exam regularly, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel and you can more readily find any changes.
Mammography is not perfect, but is currently the best available screening technology. As new research findings, new tests, new technology and new treatments become available, it is important for women (and men) and their doctors to have regular, comprehensive discussions about the benefits, limitations and potential harms of screening tests, the risks of not being screened, and the importance of observing the changes in one’s body. To understand why early detection matters, click here.
Mammography remains the most common first step in screening for breast cancer. A mammogram uses X-rays and causes a relatively small radiation exposure to the breasts.
Tomo is a "3-D mammogram" that may be performed alone or in addition to a standard mammogram (which is 2D). It creates thins slices, or images of the breast, so that overlapping normal tissues are less likely to hide cancers.
Uses high-frequency sound waves to evaluate abnormalities. No radiation exposure. Can be used in combination with mammogram.
Uses magnets to energize water molecules in the body and a computer converts the vibrations into pictures. No radiation exposure. Can be used in combination with a mammogram.
1. American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures.
2. American Academy of Pediatrics, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full