(Breast Cancer Awareness) Standing together in knowledge and power to know what you can do to lower your risk for Breast Cancer. For further information, contact us at 775-770-3187
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different forms of breast cancer, determined by which cells within the breast form into cancer.
Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast. A breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. The lobules are the glands that produce milk. The ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple. The connective tissue (which consists of fibrous and fatty tissue) surrounds and holds everything together. The most common form of breast cancer begins in the ducts or lobules.
Breast cancer can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it becomes a metastasized cancer.
What Are the Symptoms?
There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include—
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
- A new lump in the breast or underarm.
If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.
What are the Risk Factors?
Being a woman
Being older, as most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older
Having mutations in your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Cancer
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the breast. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States.
Regular check-ups and screening tests can find breast cancer at an earlier stage, when treatment works best. The most important action women can take is to have regular breast cancer screenings.
Should I get screened for breast cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to miss their mammograms. If you are due for a mammogram, do not wait. Call your health care provider to schedule your appointment as soon as you can. If you are having any symptoms of breast cancer, call your health care provider right away. Getting a mammogram regularly is the best way to find breast cancer early, when it may be easier to treat.
Healthcare providers are taking steps so that important health visits can happen safely. Both patients and staff alike wear masks inside the screening facilities, and equipment, exam rooms, and dressing rooms are cleaned after each patient. Other safety steps may include socially distanced waiting rooms, online check in, and more time added between appointments.
Who gets breast cancer?
All women can get breast cancer. Although the causes of breast cancer are still unknown, but there are some factors that may increase a woman’s chances of getting the disease:
- Getting older – Most women are diagnosed when they are 50 years of age or older
- Having a first menstrual period at a young age (younger than 12 years)
- Starting menopause at an older age (older than 55 years)
- Never giving birth, or giving birth to a first child after age 30
- Not breastfeeding
- Having had breast cancer or some non-cancerous breast diseases
- Having a close family member (parent, sibling, child) who has had breast cancer, especially at an early age
- Having certain gene mutations such as BRCA 1 or BRCA 2
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking alcohol
- Not getting enough exercise
- Exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation to the chest area early in life
- Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
Even if women have one or more of these risk factors, it does not mean they will get breast cancer. Also, many women who get breast cancer do not have any risk factors. This is why screening is important for all women.
Women with a personal or family history (close family relative) of breast cancer may want to consider genetic counseling to find out if they are at greater risk for getting the disease.
While very rare, it is possible for men to get breast cancer.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A mass that is painless, hard, and has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. It is important that any new mass, lump, or change in your breast be checked by a health care provider.
Other possible signs of breast cancer that should be checked by a health care provider include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt)
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (when the nipple turns inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
Sometimes breast cancer can spread to underarm lymph nodes and cause a lump or swelling there, even before a tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt. You should tell your health care provider about any swelling in your lymph nodes.
How can I lower my chances of getting breast cancer?
Research is being done on ways to prevent breast cancer. Although there is no known way to completely prevent breast cancer, there are ways to lower your risk. These include:
- Drinking less alcohol
- Getting regular exercise
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Breastfeeding (exclusively breast feeding during your baby’s first 6 months, and continuing for 12 months or longer)
- Talking to your health care provider about hormone replacement therapy, if you take it
Regular check-ups and screening tests can find breast cancer at an earlier stage, when treatment works best. The most important action women can take is to have routine breast cancer screenings.
How can I get a breast cancer screening?
You can schedule an appointment by calling us at 775-770-3187