Almost all of us know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. In fact, research estimates that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during their lives (and men get breast cancer too, although at much lower rates).
To kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some quick facts and links to help you gain awareness of this disease and how to fight it.
Types of Breast Cancer
Ductal carcinoma – The most common; begins in the cells of the ducts.
Lobular carcinoma – Begins in the lobes and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer – Uncommon type in which the breast is warm, red and swollen.
Causes and Risk Factors
It is unclear what specifically triggers breast cells to grow abnormally. Medical experts attribute the development of breast cancer to a combination of genetics, lifestyle choices and reproductive factors that may include:
Menstruation at an early age
Having dense breast tissue
Never having given birth, or having first given birth at an older age
Having radiation therapy to the breast/chest
Drinking alcoholic beverages
Being Caucasian or African-American
Symptoms and Screenings
The most common indication of breast cancer is discovering a lump in the breast or underarm area. Other signs include:
Redness or scaly skin
Discharge from the nipple
To detect breast cancer, a doctor may use a mammogram, or breast X-ray; a biopsy, which is the removal of cells or tissues to be viewed under a microscope; estrogen and progesterone receptor tests to determine the levels of each hormone or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of inside the body.
Prognosis and Treatment
The chance of recovery and the treatment options depend on many factors, including the stage of cancer, how fast the tumor is growing, hormone receptor levels and a woman’s age and general health. There are four standard types of treatment used for breast cancer:
Surgery, ranging from a small lump of tissue being removed to an entire breast (mastectomy).
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells or to prevent their growth.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells.
Hormone therapy removes hormones or blocks their action to keep cancer cells from growing.
It is important to give yourself a monthly breast exam. Other ways to keep breast cancer at bay: