Known to be the most common type of cancer occurring in females, breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast. These cells normally form a tumor which can be spotted during scans or can be felt in the form of a lump.
This tumor becomes malignant and turns cancerous if the cells start growing in the nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body. While breast cancer mostly affects women, there are cases of men also suffering from breast cancer.
Breast cancer cells are known to form a lump, but it is not a common characteristic of all breast cancer types. Breast cancers can be screened mammograms which helps in detecting cancer in the initial stage itself. Mammograms can detect breast cancer even before the lump can be felt or the symptoms start surfacing.
Like other cancer types, breast cancer, if not treated timely, can lead to death. Also, breast cancer starts to spread when the cancerous cells enter the blood or the lymph system and get carried to different parts of the body. Early detection and timely treatment can help prevent death occurring due to breast cancer.
While there are a lot of modules available for breast cancer treatment, such as breast cancer surgery, there is no clarity on the precise reasons that lead to breast cancer. And women often are keen to know the causes and risk factors that can subject them to development of breast cancer.
Though knowing these risk factors won’t stop the occurrence of breast cancer but can help in taking precautionary measures.
Let’s have a look at some of the risk factors which make a woman susceptible to breast cancer.
Breast cancer risk factors
- Advancing age and family history of breast cancer are known to be the most crucial among the breast cancer risk factors.
- Women who have had breast or ovary cancer in the past also stand at a high risk of breast cancer.
- Women older than age 50 are more prone to breast cancer as compared to younger women.
- High estrogen, the female hormone, is also known to increase the risk of breast cancer because estrogen encourages cells to divide, and the more they divide, the higher are chances of cancer cells development.
- The risk remains high in women who started menstruating before the age of 12 and had the first child after the age of 30.
- Birth control pills are also known to increase the risk of breast cancer in females. The risk, however, subsides if the woman has not taken birth control pills in the past ten years.
- Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle with unhealthy choices of food also increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
- Alcohol consumption also increases breast cancer risk in women
Symptoms of breast cancer
There are other symptoms of breast cancer you should watch for and report to a healthcare provider.
- Lump formation or thickening which feels different from the enclosing tissue
- Changes in breast size, shape or appearance
- Breast skin changes, like dimpling
- A newly upturned nipple
- Pigmented area of skin near the nipple (areola) or breast skin getting peeled, scaled, or flaked
- Redness or pitting of the skin, like the skin of an orange
Early diagnosis is the key
As said, breast cancer can lead to death if it is not treated on time. But to get the breast cancer treatment on time it is very important that you get an early diagnosis. In many women, these symptoms don’t surface and this delays the treatment process. This is why it has been advised that women must undergo self-examination process or mammography. This allows them to diagnose the presence of cancer at an early stage wherein it can be cured without much complication.
There are different tests used to diagnose breast cancer, mostly if an area is detected on the mammogram which shows signs of lumps, further tests will be recommended to find if it’s cancerous.