Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women, and it affects men too. With more than 2 million new cases diagnosed worldwide every year, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what breast cancer is and what the risk factors are. This post will cover five things that everyone should know about breast cancer, from the basics of what it is to the importance of early detection and treatment. Whether you’re a woman who wants to know more about her risks or a man who wants to support a loved one, this post will give you a solid foundation for understanding this disease.
How common is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affect women worldwide. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer makes up about 30% of all new cancer cases in women each year in the United States alone.
In addition to its prevalence in women, it can also occur in men, although it is much less common. Approximately 1% of all breast cancer cases occur in men, with an estimated 2,620 new cases expected in the United States in 2021.
Its rates also vary based on age, with older women being more likely to develop the disease. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women aged 55 or older, and about 1 out of 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point during their lifetime.
However, it’s important to note that breast cancer can occur at any age, and it’s important to be aware of your personal risk factors and to discuss them with your healthcare provider. By staying informed about breast cancer and understanding your personal risk, you can take steps to detect the disease early and increase your chances of successful treatment.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
Breast cancer may present with different symptoms in different people. Some may experience no symptoms at all. However, it is important to know the common symptoms associated with breast cancer so that you can detect any changes in your breasts and seek medical attention promptly.
1. Breast lump or mass: The most common symptom of breast cancer is the presence of a lump or mass in the breast or armpit. These lumps may feel hard, irregular in shape, and may or may not be painful.
2. Changes in breast size or shape: Breast cancer can cause changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts. They may appear swollen, or the nipple may be inverted or pushed inward.
3. Skin changes: Changes in the appearance of the skin over the breast may be an early sign of breast cancer. These changes may include redness, skin dimpling, or puckering that resembles an orange peel.
4. Nipple discharge: Discharge from the nipple, especially if it is bloody, is another symptom that may indicate breast cancer.
5. Pain or discomfort: Breast cancer may cause pain or discomfort in the breast or armpit.
It is essential to be familiar with your breast and report any changes or abnormalities to your doctor. Keep in mind that these symptoms may also be caused by conditions other than breast cancer. A thorough evaluation by your healthcare provider is necessary to determine the cause of your symptoms.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
If you suspect that you may have breast cancer, it’s important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Here’s what you can expect during the diagnostic process:
1. Clinical breast exam: Your doctor will perform a physical exam of your breasts and lymph nodes to check for any abnormalities.
2. Mammogram: This is an X-ray of your breast tissue. Mammograms are typically recommended for women over 40, but your doctor may recommend one at a younger age if you have a family history of breast cancer.
3. Ultrasound: If the results of your mammogram are inconclusive, your doctor may order an ultrasound. This imaging test uses sound waves to create images of your breast tissue.
4. Biopsy: If an abnormality is found on your mammogram or ultrasound, your doctor may perform a biopsy to remove a small sample of tissue for testing. This will help determine whether the abnormality is cancerous or not.
It’s important to remember that not all abnormalities detected through breast imaging are cancerous. In fact, many breast lumps are benign. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you notice any changes in your breast tissue or experience any breast-related symptoms. Early detection is key when it comes to successfully treating.