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Friday, October 15, 2021

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What is breast cancer in women?

Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Both men and women can develop breast cancer, although it is uncommon in men.

Symptoms of breast cancer

Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by a doctor.

You should also see a GP if you notice any of these symptoms:

o          a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts

o          discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood

o          a lump or swelling in either of your armpits

o          dimpling on the skin of your breasts

o          a rash on or around your nipple

o          a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.

Find out more about the symptoms of breast cancer.

Causes of breast cancer

The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. However, there are certain factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer.

These include:

o          age – the risk increases as you get older

o          a family history of breast cancer

o          a previous diagnosis of breast cancer

o          a previous non-cancerous (benign) breast lump

o          being tall, overweight or obese

o          drinking alcohol

 Diagnosing breast cancer

After examining your breasts, a GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This might include breast screening (mammography) or taking a small sample of breast tissue to be examined under a microscope (a biopsy).

Breast cancer screening

Mammographic screening, where X-ray images of the breast are taken, is the most commonly available way of finding a change in your breast tissue (lesion) at an early stage.

However, you should be aware that a mammogram might fail to detect some breast cancers.

It might also increase your chances of having extra tests and interventions, including surgery, even if you’re not affected by breast cancer.

Women with a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer may be offered screening and genetic testing for the condition.

As the risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women who are 50 to 70 years old are invited for breast cancer screening every 3 years.

Treating breast cancer

If cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer is treated using a combination of:

o          surgery

o          chemotherapy

o          radiotherapy

Surgery is usually the first type of treatment you’ll have, followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy or, in some cases, hormone or targeted treatments.

The type of surgery and the treatment you have afterwards will depend on the type of breast cancer you have. Your doctor should discuss the best treatment plan with you.

In a small proportion of women, breast cancer is discovered after it’s spread to other parts of the body (metastatic breast cancer).

Secondary cancer, also called advanced or metastatic cancer, is not curable, so the aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and the treatment you will have.

How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available if you need it.

Forms of support may include:

o          family and friends, who can be a powerful support system

o          communicating with other people in the same situation

o          finding out as much as possible about your condition

o          not trying to do too much or overexerting yourself

o          making time for yourself

Breast awareness

It’s important to be breast aware so you notice changes as soon as possible.

Get to know what is normal for you – for instance, your breasts may look or feel different at different times of your life. This will make it easier to notice potential problems.

The causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, making it difficult to say why one woman may develop breast cancer and another may not.

However, there are risk factors known to affect your likelihood of developing breast cancer. Some of these you cannot do anything about, but there are some you can change.

Age

The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. The condition is most common in women over age 50 who have been through menopause. About 8 out of 10 cases of breast cancer happen in women over 50.

All women who are 50 to 70 years of age should be screened for breast cancer every 3 years as part of the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

Women over the age of 70 are still eligible to be screened and can arrange this through their GP or local screening unit.

Family history

If you have close relatives who have had breast cancer or ovarian cancer, you may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

However, because breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, it’s possible for it to occur in more than one family member by chance.

Your breasts are made up of thousands of tiny glands (lobules) that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher concentration of breast cells than other breast tissue, making it denser.

Women with dense breast tissue may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer as there are more cells that can become cancerous.

Dense breast tissue can also make a breast scan (mammogram) difficult to read, as any lumps or areas of abnormal tissue are harder to see.

Younger women tend to have denser breasts. As you get older, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts decreases and is replaced by fat, so your breasts become less dense.

Ways to prevent breast cancer

1. Keep weight in check: It’s easy to tune out because it gets said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.

2. Be physically active exercise: This is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.

3. Eat your fruits & vegetables – and avoid too much alcohol:  A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer.  Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower (a drink a day or under).  While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.  If you don’t drink, don’t feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, there’s likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.

Smokers and non-smokers alike know how unhealthy smoking is.  On top of lowering the quality of life and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least 15 cancers – including breast cancer – it also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrinkles. Now that’s motivation to stay smoke-free or work to get smoke-free.

5. Breastfeed, if possible

Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.

6. Avoid birth control pills, particularly after age 35 or if you smoke

Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill.

The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smoke. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favour. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower the risk.

Find out your family history

Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so it’s important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer (especially at an early age) or if you have multiple family members (including males) who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counsellor can help you understand your family history of the disease.

Despite some controversy, studies show that breast cancer screening with mammography saves lives. It doesn’t help prevent cancer, but it can help find cancer early when it’s most treatable.  For most women, regular mammograms can begin at age 40, but specific recommendations vary by age and risk.

Clinical breast exams and self-exams are not recommended. But you should be familiar with your breasts and tell a health care provider right away if you notice any changes in how your breasts look or feel.

Is spicy food bad for breast cancer

Capsaicin, an active ingredient of pungent substances such as chilli or pepper, inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells, report investigators. Capsaicin, an active ingredient of pungent substances such as chilli or pepper, inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells.

What foods cause cancer

Processed meat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is “convincing evidence” that processed meat causes cancer. …

Red meat. …Alcohol. …Salted fish (Chinese style) …Sugary drinks or non-diet soda. ..Fast food or processed foods.

For further information, send email to [email protected], send to Dr Azadeh Whatsapp 002207774469 from only 3 to 6 PM.

AUTHOR.: DR. HASSAN AZADEH MD, SENIOR LECTURER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE GAMBIA, CLINICAL DIRECTOR AT MEDICARE HEALTH SERVICES.

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