Breast cancer prevention and diagnosis

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Medically reviewed by Dmitro Kyiashka, MD, Physician, Radiologist.

Your chances of surviving breast cancer are very good if detected early. Breast cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of cells within the breast. In this post, we will look at how to check your breasts, signs, and symptoms of breast cancer, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the biggest killer of women worldwide. All adult women should check their breasts once per month. Once your over the age of 50, regular screening by having a mammogram can help pick up any changes in the breasts early in the diagnosis. #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #CancerAwareness

October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which provides health care professionals and the public an opportunity to focus on breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and the impacts on women.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is cancer in which there is a tumor (a lot of abnormal tissue) in the breast tissue. Most breast cancers start in the ducts of the breast (intraductal carcinoma), nonetheless, few breast cancers start in the breast sac or lobes (lobular carcinoma).

There are various sorts of breast cancer in women. The sort of breast cancer relies upon which breast cancer cells become the reason for cancerous.

Anatomy of the breast in women

Breast cancer can begin in various areas of the breast. Breast tissue is made up of fat, glandular tissue (organized in sheets), ducts, and connective tissue.

Lobes are contains glands that make milk. The catheter is the cylinder that conveys the milk to the nipple. Connective tissue (which is comprised of greasy and stringy tissue) wraps everything together. In examination or measurements of breast cancer, it’s recognized that most breast cancers happen in the lobes or ducts.

Through blood and lymphatic vessels, breast cancer can extend outside of the breast. At the point when this cancer scatters to various organs or tissues of the body, it is said to have metastasized.


Statistics on Breast Cancer


Here we’ll talk about worldwide statistics of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most well-known cancer among women worldwide. Almost 1.7 million new cases were analyzed in 2012, representing around 25% of all cancers in women.

The frequency rates shift incredibly over the world. The occurrence rate in Central Africa and East Asia is 27 for every 100,000, while in North America it is 92 for each 100,000. In 2019, 268,600 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States of America.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women worldwide.

Research from 2019 indicated a significant increase in breast cancer mortality rate worldwide over the past 25 years, which may show an increase in rates of breast cancer in women.

These statistics are quite alarming, but it also supports the need for education on women performing self-checks and getting an early diagnosis.

Breast cancer is more common in women after menopause, although there is more and more women in a younger age bracket getting diagnosed with it.

Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

All women are in danger of breast cancer, and there are some risk factors that can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. This doesn’t mean you will definitely get it, they aspects just increase the risk.

Some risk factors can’t be avoided, such as family history. You can change other risk factors, such as smoking. Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Genetic links. If you have a mother, grandmother, auntie or sister who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Having the gene BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene are more likely to get breast cancer
  • Age. As you get older, you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer
  • Past Diagnosis of breast cancer. Those with a previous history of breast cancer, you are at increased risk of developing breast cancer again
  • Age of first menstruation. If you got your period before 12 years of age, you’re at increased risk
  • Late Menopause. Women who start menopause after 55 are at increased risk of developing breast cancer
  • Recurrent infectious disease of breast. If you had multiple mastitis, mastopathies, mastoiditis the probability to get cancer increases a lot
  • Pregnancies. If you have never been pregnant or never had a full-term pregnancy. There is also an increased risk if you had your first child after 35 years of age
  • Alcohol. Consuming moderate to excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Smoking. Not only does smoking cause many other health issues, but it also increases your breast cancer risk

Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

There are some basic lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet, exercise, reduce alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and reducing the amount of stress in our lives.

I recently wrote an article on how to reduce the consumption of alcohol, and the benefits to your health.

There are some aspects that are out of our control, genetics, age, age of puberty, age of menopause and pregnancies. There are, however, some things we can do to reduce our risk of breast cancer. Please view the infographic below.

Decrease your breast cancer risk

Interesting fact!

The greater the length of time a woman breastfeeds, the greater protection against breast cancer.

The American Institute of Cancer Research

Signs, Early Warnings & Symptoms of Breast Cancer


The most common sign of of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast tissue.

Throughout the media, there is focus on if a lump is found to see your local medical professional or specialist.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of focus in different changes in the breasts such as dimpling, discharge from the nipple or other changes around the areola.

Different kinds of breast cancer may present with different signs and symptoms.

For instance, intrusive ductal carcinoma (ICD) that structures in the breast channels can cause evident breast masses.

Where obtrusive lobular carcinoma (CLI) shaped in the mammary organs can cause breast thickening.

In most women, breast malignancy is first found as a breast mass. In any case, there are other significant signs and side effects. Indications of bosom tumors change from individual to individual.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Breast Cancer signs and symptoms

Changes to look for include:

  • Alteration in the shape or size of the breast
  • Changes in the presence or appearance of the skin such as dimpling
  • Wrinkles suddenly developing on the skin of the breast
  • Skin changes, for example, growing, selling, redness, or other obvious contrasts in one of the two breasts
  • Lumps or thickening in the breast
  • A new lump or lumpiness especially if it is only in one breast
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Rash on the nipple
  • Inverted nipple
  • Swelling of the upper arms
  • An unusual pain that does not go way
  • Swelling or knots in the armpit/ swollen lymph nodes in the armpit

If you experience any of these symptoms, please consult with your Health Professional.

Breast Self Examination

Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease. Remember you don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts. Did you know the average Australian spends 9.4 hours in front of a screen each day, and it only takes 10 minutes per month to perform a breast screen?

All adult women are encouraged to do a self-breast exam every month. Up to 40% of women with breast cancer picked up changes during their self-breast exam.

Breast self-examinations can be performed in front of a mirror, in the shower or lying down. Just do what feels comfortable for you and something you can incorporate into a regular monthly routine.

Please feel free to refer to this page if you need a guide on how to perform your self checks.

Breast Self Examination


Mammogram

Breast screening is a safe and effective way to diagnose breast cancer, especially in women aged 50-74.

A mammogram is an X-beam of the breast. In women without clear manifestations or symptoms, routine screening mammograms are utilized to identify breast changes.

Prior to your mammogram, please ensure you let them know if you have any of the following symptoms:


• Breast pain
• Nipple release (discharge)
• Thickening of the skin of the breast
• Changes in the size or state of the breast

If you have any of these symptoms prior to a breast screen mammogram, you may be referred for other testing or specialists and bypass the screening.

If you have any of these symptoms please contact your health care provider for further assessment.

In Australia, free breast screening is available from ages of 50- 74 years of age.

If you live within Australia and want to book a free breast screen, please click here. This link will take you to a page with details on how to book a screen within your local area.

Once you have a breast screen, if there are any abnormalities detected you will likely be referred to a specialist for further investigation. This may not mean you have breast cancer or need any procedure, but the screen make have picked up an abnormality like a cyst. But it is always best to play on the side of caution.

They can recommend ladies to breast masters or specialists. This doesn’t imply that you have cancer growth or need a medical procedure. These specialists are specialists in diagnosing breast issues. breast cancer can be analyzed through an assortment of tests, including mammograms, ultrasound, MRI, and biopsy.

Here is a fantastic video on the process of getting a mammogram.


Ultrasounds for breast cancer detection

At the point when a breast self-assessment or mammogram uncovers a dubious aspect of the breast, the specialist may arrange a ultrasound assessment of the breast tissue.

Breast ultrasound is an output that utilizations entering sound waves that won’t influence or harm the tissue and won’t be heard by individuals.

Breast Ultrasound may be required if you have signs and symptoms of changes to the breast

The breast tissue diverts these waves, causing echoes, which are utilized by PCs to draw pictures of what’s going on inside the breast tissue.

Ultrasound utilizes sound waves to create pictures of structures somewhere down in the body. Ultrasound can be utilized to decide if another breast mass is a strong mass or a liquid-filled sore.


MRI

For further assessment of any breast changes, your doctor may request you get an MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging).

During breast MRI, the magnet associated with the PC communicates attractive energy and radio waves (not radiation) through the breast tissue. It checks the tissue to perform definite imaging of the territory inside the breast.


Biopsy


A breast biopsy is a definitive way for your doctor to determine if there are cancer cells in the area of concern.

A biopsy is a test that takes a small sample of tissue and inspected under a microscope to determine any abnormalities.

Fortunately, 80% of ladies who have a breast biopsy don’t have breast cancer.

There are three kinds of biopsy:


• Fine needle
• Needle biopsy
• Surgical biopsy

On the off chance that breast cancer cells are identified, different tests are never really out if cancer has spread to the breast or to different pieces of the body.

In the event that the cancer is just in the breast, is in the lymph nodes under the armpit or has spread external the breast, it decides the phase of your breast cancer.

The Stages of Breast Cancer

The stages of breast cancer are numbered from 0 to IV, 0 being less severe to the most severe being IV.

According to the National Breast Cancer Association, the stages can be broken down into the following:

Stages of breast cancer are numbered from 0 to IV:

Stages of breast cancer

  • Stage 0 relates to pre-invasive cancers
  • Stage I and stage II relate to early breast cancer
  • Stage III is localized but advanced breast cancer
  • Stage IV is advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic refers to spreading of the cancer to other parts of the body

This is quite a complex area to cover, please see the video below that gives a visual representation of the stages. Note there is no sound in this video, but you can keep trying to put the volume up like I did 😀


Treatment Of Breast Cancer

In the event that you get diagnosed with breast cancer, your health care professional will examine treatment choices with you.

It’s imperative to consider every alternative treatments very cautiously.

Gauge the advantages of every treatment choice against potential dangers and results.

There are a few treatments for breast cancer. It relies upon the sort and degree of breast cancer.

Patients with breast cancer frequently get more than one treatment.

  • Surgery where cancerous tissue and sometimes lymph nodes will be surgically removed.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Utilize unique medications to shrivel or pulverize cancer cells. These medications can be in a tablet form or via intravenous medication and sometimes both.
  • Hormone therapy -Keep cancer cells from securing the hormones essential for development.
  • Radiation therapy- Utilize high-energy beams (like X-beams) to execute cancer cells.

A medical team will work collaboratively to help you through your treatment, this may include specialists, oncologists, surgeons, breast care nurse and your local Doctor. Specialists from various fortes frequently treat breast cancer together.

Benign Tumors Similar to Cancer

In some cases, doctors may also find a benign tumour, which may look like cancer during an examination.

Those, for example, are:

  • Fibromyomas
  • Cysts
  • Fibroadenomas
  • Lipomas

To verify your diagnosis you may need a biopsy, mammography, or a few lab tests.

Take-Home Message

All adult women should check their breasts every month by performing a self-check examination. If you have any concerns or signs and symptoms please consult with your Medical Health Professional for further guidance. If you are over the age of 50 or 40 in some countries, it is recommended you get regular mammograms to help detect any changes that need further investigation.

Risk factors of breast cancer rates and statistics. Breast cancer is the biggest killer of women worldwide. Know your risks, know how to screen and once your over the age of 50 get regularly mammograms. #breastawareness #awareness #selfcheck #cancerawareness #breastcancerawarenessmonth

Resources and Support Groups

Australia:

https://www.cancer.org.au/support-and-services

https://www.bcna.org.au/

https://www.bcna.org.au/metastatic-breast-cancer/coping-with-metastatic-breast-cancer/where-to-find-support/#helpline

https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/breast-cancer/support

America:

https://www.cancercare.org/diagnosis/breast_cancer

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html

UK:

https://breastcancernow.org/

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/living-with/resources-books

CANADA:

https://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/a-future-without-breast-cancer/breast-cancer-support-services/

https://cbcn.ca/en/support_groups

Medically reviewed by Dr Dmitro

Emilie MASI

Registered Nurse, Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice Graduate Diploma of Wound Care Working towards Masters of Wound Care

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