Breast Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Prevention And Treatment

By Martinez - November 06, 2017

Breast Diagram

The number of breast cancer cases is rising every year on each continent. For example, in the United kingdom, 55,200 cases of breast cancer was diagnosed in 2014. That is; 150 cases every day.

 Is any woman immune to this disease? Can it be prevented?
Breast Cancer Causes 

What causes breast cancer?
Unlike other forms of cancer with known causes like lung cancer which is caused mainly by smoking and skin cancer caused by ultraviolet radiation, breast cancer has no known cause.
 But there are some factors that increases a woman's risk of having breast cancer. For example, environmental factors, genetics, and hormones contribute to the risk of having breast cancer.

Genetics (Family History) 
If a woman has a female family member with breast cancer such as her mother, sister, or even grandmother, she has an increased risk of having breast cancer. If more than one of her family member has cancer, then the risks becomes greater.

Environmental Factors.
Being exposed to harmful chemicals,and ionizing radiation increases the risk of having breast cancer since the female breast tissues are very sensitive to radioactivity.
 Diet is also an important factor. Some researchers suggest that vitamin D deficiency might be linked to  increased risk of having breast cancer. This is because it helps in the absorption of calcium which may in turn help to control cell growth. 
 Some other studies link fat in diet to promoting breast cancer. The FDA Consumer magazine talked about this. It stated that in countries like the United States where fat consumption was high, these countries had the highest death rates from breast cancer.
It says that Japanese women historically had a low risk of having breast cancer. But that risk has been rising speedily, because of switching to the western eating habits, from a low-fat diet to a high-fat diet.
  Body fat produces a female hormone known as estrogen, which can have adverse effects on the tissues in the breast, leading to cancer.

Estrogen received from ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) as been shown to increase the risk of having breast cancer in some women. Young women, women who have never given birth or women who use birth-control pills for  a long time may have as much as 20 percent increase in the risk of having breast cancer. 

Breast Cancer Symptoms
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
Breast Cancer awareness programs stresses on monthly breast examination 

Signs of breast cancer to look for every month on the same day

*Lump of any size (tiny or large) or thickening in the breast.
*Puckering, dimpling, or discoloration of the skin of the breast.
*Drawing back or turning in of the nipple.
*Rash or scaling of the nipple or unusual or bloody discharge.
*Enlarged glands under the arm.
*Changes in moles or incisions of the breast.
Note that breast pain is not associated with breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Prevention

Good Diet.
In the United States, it estimated that 1 out of 3 cancer cases are caused by dietary factors, that is; what you eat. Good diet strengthens your immune system and may be your first line of defence.
 Eating fiber-rich foods like whole grain bread and cereals may help lower the body's production of prolactin and estrogen.
 Reducing the intake of saturated fats may reduce the risks of having breast cancer. Limiting the and removing skin from chicken can help lower your body's saturated fat levels.
  Eating vegetables rich in vitamin A such as carrots, sweet potatoes  and those with dark green leaves like spinach may help. Recent research shows that vitamin A stops the formation of mutations causing cancer.

Early Detection
 This still remains the best way in changing the course of breast cancer. Breast self examination should be done regularly each month.

While standing, raise the left arm. Using the right hand and beginning at the outer edge of the breast, press the flat part of the fingers in small circles, moving slowly around the breast and toward the nipple. Give attention also to area between underarm and breast.
Lying flat, position a pillow under the left shoulder, and place left arm over or behind the head. Use the same circular motion as described above. Reverse for the right side.
Breast self examination

Gently squeeze the nipple to check for any discharge. Repeat for the right breast. Watch a video clip for more details on how to carry out a regular breast self examination.
 A woman should be alert in looking for any suspicious appearance, lump or a hardened part of the breast. And no matter how little it may seem, she needs to inform her doctor immediately. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better. 

 Another good method used in detecting breast cancer is a mammogram. This type of X-ray can detect a tumor two years before it can be felt. It is recommended for women over 40.
A mammogram

But mammography cannot tell if the tumor is cancerous or not. Only a biopsy can give a clear diagnosis. For example the case of Josephine, who went for a mammogram. Based on the X-ray film, her doctor diagnosed her lump as a benign (non cancerous) breast disease and said: "I'm absolutely sure you don't have cancer." The nurse who did the mammogram was worried, but Josephine said: "I felt that if the doctor was sure, maybe I was being paranoid." Soon the lump grew larger, so Josephine consulted another doctor. A biopsy was taken and showed that she had inflammatory carcinoma, a fast-growing cancer. Women should always carry out breast self examination regularly regardless of examination by a mammogram.

Breast Cancer Treatment
 Presently, drugs, surgery and radiation are used to treat breast cancer.
Methods of treatment are determined by the type of tumor, the size, your menopausal status, or if it has spread to the lymph nodes.

Use Of Drugs.
 Despite efforts to eradicate breast cancer by surgery, 25 to 30 percent of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer will have hidden metastases too small to produce symptoms at first. Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses chemical agents to attempt to kill those cells that invade other parts of the body.
Chemotherapy is limited in its effect because cancerous tumors are made up of different types of cells that each have their own sensitivities to drugs. Those cells that survive treatment may spawn a new generation of drug-resistant tumors.
 Some side effects of chemotherapy may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, bleeding, heart damage, immune suppression, sterility, and leukemia.

Surgery. For decades, radical mastectomy, the removal of the breast along with underlying muscles and lymph nodes, has been widely used. But in recent years breast-conserving treatment that includes removal of only the tumor and lymph nodes, plus radiation, has been used with survival rates that equal those of mastectomy. This has given some women more peace of mind when deciding to have a small tumor removed, that being less disfiguring.

Radiation Therapy.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells. In the case of breast conservation treatment, tiny cancer seeds may escape a surgeon's knife as he tries to preserve the breast. Radiation therapy can clean up lingering cells. But with radiation comes a slight risk of inducing secondary cancers in the opposite breast.
But regular breast examination, annual examination by a doctor, and mammography still remains the most important steps in altering the course of breast cancer.

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