Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Breast Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis, prevention and treatment

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when a malignant tumor forms from cells within the breast. It occurs most frequently in women, however, men can develop breast cancer, although much less frequently. The American Cancer Society estimates that 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common cancer among women, aside from skin cancer.

Risk Factors and Causes of Breast Cancer

Research is ongoing to identify the exact causes of breast cancer. Researchers have, however, identified several breast cancer risk factors. A risk factor is something that increases the chance that a person will develop a disease. It is nota guarantee and does not predict a future diagnosis. Risk factors for breast cancer include:

    Symptoms of Breast Cancer

    A worrisome breast lump is usually what provokes a woman to see a doctor, but there are several other symptoms that can be caused by breast cancer. Breast cancer symptoms can include:
    • a breast that feels warm to the touch
    • nipple that becomes inverted that was not inverted before
    • skin on or around breast is dimpled or has an appearance similar to an orange peel 
    • skin on breast that is red or blotchy
    • sudden increase in breast size that is not related to menstrual cycle
    • nipple discharge (clear or bloody)
    • nipple pain or scaly nipples
    • persistent breast pain or tenderness that is unrelated to menstrual cycle
    • swelling of the lymph nodes of the armpit
    • breast lump, swelling, or mass
    These are symptoms of breast cancer that can be seen or touched, but there are instances in early breast cancer where there are no symptoms that can be detected by physical examination. Imaging tests like mammograms and MRI can detect breast abnormalities that cannot be seen by the eye or by the touch. 

    Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

    Regular breast cancer screening can reveal breast abnormalities that require additional testing. Some women detect breast abnormalities through breast-self exams at home or through a clinical breast exam by their doctor. Most breast abnormalities are found through mammography. Only 10% of symptoms are initially found through physical exam. The remaining 90% are detected through a mammogram, proving just how vital it is to have a regular mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that women begin having an annual mammogram beginning at age 40. Women who are at higher risk of developing breast cancer may be recommended to begin screening earlier. 

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