Questions About Breast Cancer

1. Breast cancer do not only affects older women.
While it’s true that the risk of cancer increases as we grow older, it can occur at any age. There are registered cases when a 13 year old girl was diagnosed.

2. If you have a risk factor for breast cancer, you’re not 100% likely to get the disease.

Getting it is not a certainty, even if you have one of the stronger risk factors, like gene abnormality. Of women with a inherited genetic abnormality, will develop breast cancer over their lifetime, 20 – 60% won’t. All other risk factors are associated with a much lower probability of being diagnosed with it.

3. If it does run in your family, you will also have.

Every woman has some risk of breast cancer. About 70% of women who get this cancer have no known family history of the disease. Increasing age – just the wear and tear of living is the biggest single risk factor. For those women who do have a family history of this disease, your risk may be elevated a little, a lot, or not at all. If you are concerned, discuss your family history with your GP or a genetic counselor.

4. Not only your mother’s family history can affect your risk.

A history in your mother’s or your father’s family will influence your risk equally. That’s because half of your genes come from your mother, half from your father. But a man with a this cancer gene abnormality is less likely to develop it than a woman with a similar gene. So, if you want to learn more about your father’s family history, you have to look mainly at the women on your father’s side, not just the men.

5. Using antiperspirants do not causes breast cancer.

There is no evidence that the active ingredient in antiperspirants, or reducing perspiration from the underarm area, influences the risk. The supposed link between this and antiperspirants is based on misinformation about anatomy and a misunderstanding of the illness.

6. Birth control pills do not cause breast cancer.

Modern day birth control pills contain a low dose of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Many research studies show no association between birth control pills and an increased risk of cancer. However, one study that combined the results of many different studies did show an association between birth control pills and a very small increase in risk. The study also showed that this slight increase in risk decreased over time.

7. Eating high-fat foods will not causes it.

Several large studies have not been able to demonstrate a clear connection between eating high-fat foods and a higher risk. Ongoing studies are attempting to clarify this issue further. Excess body weight, is a risk factor, because the extra fat increases the production of estrogen outside the ovaries and adds to the overall level of estrogen in the body. If you are already overweight, or have a tendency to gain weight easily, avoiding high-fat foods is a good idea.

8. A monthly breast self-exam is the best way to diagnose it.

High quality, film-screen mammography is the most reliable way to find breast cancer as early as possible, when it is most curable. By the time a breast cancer can be felt, it is usually bigger than the average size of a cancer first found on mammography. Breast examination by you or your health care provider is still very important. About 25% of this cancer are found only on breast examination (not on the mammogram), about 35% are found on mammography alone, and 40% are found by both physical exam and mammography. Keep both bases covered.

9. You can do something about it.

There are several effective ways to reduce, but not eliminate the risk in women at high risk. Options include lifestyle changes (minimize alcohol consumption, stop smoking, exercise regularly), medication (tamoxifen); and in cases of very high risk, surgery may be offered (prophylactic mastectomies, and for some women, prophylactic ovary removal). Be sure that you have consulted with a physician or genetic counselor before you make assumptions about your level of risk.

10. A diagnosis is not an automatic death sentence

Fully 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no signs of metastases (no cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes). Furthermore, 80% of these women live at least five years, most longer, and many live much longer. Even women with signs of cancer metastases can live a long time. Plus promising treatment breakthroughs are becoming available each day.

You should know:
Accounting for 22% of female deaths from cancer in the USA, more than 87 000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in USA each year.

Unfortunately the rates are slowly, but gradually rising. According to the Cancer Research Center based in the United Kingdom 75% of women recover from the disease.

Aside from genetic predisposition, this is a disease of our modern lifestyle. Many cases are related to over-exposure of breast tissue to estrogen. Scientists have discovered that the contraceptive pills also raise estrogen level sand may slightly increase the risk. Scientists also found that the risk is 18% higher for obese women compared to those with a healthy weight. Other factors that may cause cancer are the environmental pollutants, diets, bereavement and stress.

It is vital to perform regular self-examination looking for changes in the breast or nipple, because the most cases of cancer are picked up when a woman notices a lump in her breast. It is also very important to go for mammograms, especially if there is a family history for this.

When caught before the disease has spread beyond the breast, the chances of a cure are between 76 % and 98 %. If the cancer has spread to other organs or to the lymph glands the success rate is 49% to 56 %. If detected before it has spread, a lumpectomy/ removal of the cancerous lump/ maybe all that’s needed. Usually any breast surgery is combined with radiotherapy which helps prevent recurrence. Most women are also prescribed a four-year course of tamoxifen that cuts the risk of estrogen related by 30% to 40%.

Increasingly, complementary therapies, such as nutrition, aromatherapy and counseling are seen as a vital part of the care.

Prevention plan:

  1. Exercise regularly – the physical activity reduces overall risk by 20% among women at all levels of risk for the disease.
  2. Limit the alcohol intake
  3. Eat healthy foods – vegan diets, free of meat and dairy procedure have the lowest breast cancer risk. Fish, especially mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, is rich in fats
  4. Get more sunshine

Check your breasts every two weeks when showering, consult with your doctor immediately if you notice something wrong like:

  • dimpling, puckering or burgling of the skin;
  • a nipple that has changed position or become inverted;
  • redness, soreness, rash or swelling.

Everyone seems to know somebody with this type of cancer and we wonder whether we too, will be affected during our lifetime. All of us want to do everything we can to reduce the chances of ever getting the disease. That’s why we are begging you to go for mammograms every second year – it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t take your free time, isn’t expensive but it can save your life.

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