by | Oct 13, 2015 | Awareness Day/Month

Protect yourself from Breast Cancer

  • Over last ten years or so, breast cancer is the most common cancer in most cities in India, and 2nd most common in the rural areas.
  • Although women are highly prone to breast cancer, men may rarely get it.

Know the risk factors

  • Age: More incidences in India occur in women over the age of 40-50. However, breast cancers in young pre-menopausal women tend to be more aggressive.
  • Family history: Women with close relatives or first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Race and ethnicity: White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer.
  • Dense breasts due to age, menopausal status, certain medications (including menopausal hormone therapy), pregnancy, and genetics.
  • Exposure to the hormone estrogen:
    • Longer Menstrual periods, i.e., early menarche or late menopause
    • Combined hormone therapy given to women after menopause
    • Parabens and phthalates in cosmetics, hair spray and many other cleaning product fragrances.
  • Previous exposure to radiation for treatment of some malignancy (e.g., lymphoma).
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure
  • Environmental pollutants such as organochlorine pesticides.
  • Occupational exposures: Women employed in commercial sterilization facilities (exposure to high levels of ethylene oxide) and the night shift workers (disturbed sleep/wake cycles).
  • Contraceptives: Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) and Depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate, DMPA (injectable progesterone for birth-control).
  • Benign breast conditions: Women diagnosed with certain benign breast conditions might have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ: Also known as lobular neoplasia, it is an abnormal cellular outgrowth which may become cancerous (invasive) if left untreated for long.
  • Other factors include alcohol-consumption, obesity and lower rates of breast-feeding.

Stay healthy, get screened

A screening plan is planned by the doctor depending upon the unique situation of the patient, if one has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

  • A monthly breast self-exam: Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
  • A yearly medical breast exam by a doctor at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
  • One might have one screening test, such as a mammogram, and then have a different test — an MRI — 6 months later.

In addition to the recommended screening guidelines for women at average risk, a screening plan for a woman with a history of breast cancer may include the above screening tests.

  • For women aged 20-30 years, breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for those starting in their 20s. A breast self-exam is when you check your own breasts for lumps, changes in size or shape of the breast, or any other changes in the breasts or underarm (armpit)
  • For women aged 40–49 years, mammography may save lives, but the benefit for younger women may be less than for older women.
  • For women aged 50–69 years, all women in this age group should have mammograms on a regular basis
  • For women above the age of 70 years, screening mammography is probably beneficial for women aged over 70 years who are in good health and have a life expectancy of about 10 years.

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