Second only to skin cancer, breast cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women. Because of this, everyone should be aware of breast cancer risk factors, the importance of regular screenings, and available treatments. That’s why this October, Chai Urgent Care joins breast cancer organizations, survivors, and the medical community in recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, making gender the greatest risk factor for the disease. Women with a personal or family history of breast cancer are at greater risk than their peers, as are those who carry the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes. Other risk factors include:
- Dense breast tissue
- Menstruation before age 12
- Menopause after age 55
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Giving birth after 30 or not having children
- Using hormone replacement therapy
- Early exposure to X-rays and/or radiation
Additionally, 1% of men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Those with a family history should speak with their doctor about other risk factors and prevention.
The Importance of Regular Screenings
Early detection has been proven to promote more positive outcomes for breast cancer patients. This is because as cancer grows, it may spread throughout the body, affecting other tissues and progressing more rapidly. With self-exams and annual mammograms, you can stay aware of your body and any changes as they occur.
It’s recommended that all women, as well as men with a family history of male breast cancer, perform self-exams once a month beginning at age 18. During a self-exam, take note of the breasts, chest, underarms, and nearby areas. Any lumps and/or changes in appearance, such as inverted nipples, dryness, reddening, noticeable changes to size and shape, or dimpling should be shared with a doctor. He or she will perform a similar physical exam to determine what steps, if any, should be taken next.
Women age 55 or older should also undergo mammograms once every two years. This diagnostic imaging technique painlessly captures images of breast tissue to identify any lumps or other abnormalities detected during a physical exam. Depending on your breast tissue, age, other risk factors, and family history, your doctor may suggest more frequent mammograms, 3-D mammography, or other screening methods.
Prevention and Treatment
Breast cancer can happen to anyone regardless of family history, lifestyle, and many other factors. However, research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, reducing alcohol use, and exercise may minimize risk. Genetic testing can also identify risk factors and help guide your medical decisions for prevention.
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer, many treatment options are available. They include:
- Lumpectomy, or the removal of the tumor and nearby tissues while preserving the breast.
- Mastectomy, the surgical removal of all breast tissue.
- Radiation, which uses high-powered beams to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy, the use of special drugs that fight cancer.
- Immunotherapy, a treatment that helps your immune system battle cancer.
- Hormonal therapy, a treatment that denies tumors the hormones they require to develop.
Your doctor will work with you to determine which treatments will be most effective for your condition.
Schedule a Breast Cancer Screening
This October, we can all support the fight against breast cancer. Donate to charities for research and survivors, talk to loved ones, and schedule a screening at Chai Urgent Care to help protect your health. Our compassionate doctors are available every day until midnight to ensure everyone can access breast cancer screenings and treatment. For more information, contact us today.