Breast Cancer is every woman’s scare. It’s not an unfounded fear since studies show that 1 out of 11 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. But this disease doesn’t need to be frightening if you’re educated enough about it. Here are some basic facts about breast cancer that will arm you to protect yourself against it.
1. Early detection is the key to breast cancer survival. Ninety-six percent of women with breast cancer live at least five years longer if breast cancer is detected and treated early. Some patients who have undergone mastectomy (breast removal) are even cured completely. To be able to determine early if you have breast cancer, you should know how to perform breast self-examination (BSE). This easy procedure should be done monthly after menstruation. Note too that through BSE, 75% of all breast cancers are found by the women themselves.
2. An abnormal lump is often the first sign of a breast problem. But what is an abnormal breast lump? A lump is a cause for alarm if it wasn’t present before on any of your breasts and that it’s more prominent than the tissue that surrounds it. If you found a lump on one of your breasts, examine your other breast. If both of your breasts have the lumps in the same location, chances are you don’t have breast cancer. If it’s only on one breast then let your doctor examine it.
3. Not all lumps are cancerous. Researches show that 8 out of 10 breast lumps are benign (not cancerous). For instance, lumps that appear before menstruation are normal fluid collections which disappear after your period. Harmless lumps may also occur as a result of age, menopause, birth control pills, hormonal changes, and pregnancy. It’s best to consult the doctor when you think a lump is not normal but don’t let yourself get sick with worry right away. It may be benign and benign lumps are also not known to turn cancerous.
4. Breast cancer may manifest other symptoms. These include a change in the shape of your breast, a clear or bloody discharge from your nipple even if you’re not breastfeeding, a retracted nipple, a dimpling of the skin, scaly skin surrounding the nipple, swelling and redness of the breast, or other changes in the skin color. The breast may feel hot and painful although cancerous growths are usually painless.
5. Some women are more at risk to develop breast cancer. You are more likely to develop breast cancer if you have a mother or a sister who suffered from it. If you’ve had breast cancer before, there’s also a high probability that you’ll have it again. In addition, you’re prone to the disease if you’re 50 years old or older. If you have these predisposing factors, be more vigilant. Perform BSE regularly and consult with your doctor as needed. Once you reach the age of 40, you should have a yearly physical exam and a mammogram every two years. When you’re 50, undergo a mammogram yearly.
6. You can reduce breast cancer risk. High-fat diet, excessive alcohol consumption, radiation, obesity, and hormonal treatments have been linked with breast cancer. Thus, you can lower your chances of getting the disease by following these:
– eat a diet that is low in fat and salt but rich in fiber
– drink moderate amounts of alcohol or not at all
– maintain a normal weight through regular exercise
– avoid radiation as much as possible
– discuss with your doctor thoroughly if you decide to have hormonal treatments or birth control pills