The month of October is marked as the 'Breast Cancer Awareness month'. It actually helps to boost attention and support for the awareness, earlier detection and as well as treatment of this disease.
Each year there are about 1.38 million new cases of Breast Cancer and almost 458,000 people die from breast cancer.
It is the most common cancer in women worldwide, in developed and as well as in developing countries. The basic reason for the number of cases increasing daily in low middle-income countries are:
Adoption of Western lifestyles
The cancer deaths that occur in low and middle-income countries are about 269,000. The basic reason for breast cancer deaths is mainly due to lack of awareness and barriers to health services.
Breast Cancer occurs when the abnormal cell starts growing uncontrollably in the breast region. So, with the regular screening, you can prevent the risk of acquiring it.
It's important to treat it at the earliest stages otherwise it can spread to other parts of the body.
What are its causes?
Basically, its causes are not clearly known. Researchers have recognised hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that increase your risk of breast cancer.
But it's not clear like why some people who have no risk factors acquire breast cancer and people who have some risk factors never do. So, you can say that Breast Cancer is caused by complex interactions between the environment and your genetic makeup.
Now let's see what are its risk factors
Breast cancer risk factors are anything that makes it more likely that you will acquire breast cancer. But, having one or even many risk factors doesn't mean that you will develop breast cancer.
Many women are there who develop breast cancer even when they don't have any risk factors. Some factors are linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. They are:
1. Increasing age
With the increasing age, your risk to develop breast cancer also increases.
2. Being female
Women are much more prone to acquire breast cancer than males. Yes, you heard it right!
Even males can get breast cancer. They also have breast tissue in their bodies, but the chances are very less as compared to women.
Being obese also increases your risk of acquiring breast cancer.
4. Drinking alcohol
A large amount of intake of alcohol also increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
5. Family History
If your sister, mother or any other member of the family have breast cancer then you are at a higher risk to acquire it.
Still, the majority of people who are diagnosed with cancer don't have any family history as such.
6. Exposure to radiation
If you encounter radiation treatments to your chest when you were a child or a young adult then your risk of developing breast cancer is high.
7. Giving birth to a child at an older age
Women's who give birth to their first child after thirty years of age, their risk of developing the cancer increases.
So, these were some of the risk factors of breast cancer.
What are its symptoms?
It is important to get familiar with the symptoms of breast cancer.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
Change in the appearance and size of the breast.
A small lump in the breast
The colour of the skin over the breast changes.
Constant pain in the breast region
Peeling and flaking of the pigmented area of skin that surrounds the breast.
So, these were the symptoms of breast cancer. If you notice any of them, then for sure go to your doctor for further investigation.
How to diagnose breast cancer?
Various tests are carried out by doctors once the symptoms are noticed. Tests and procedures that are used to diagnose breast cancer are:
1. Breast exam
The doctor will check both of your breasts and lymph nodes in your armpits, feeling for any lumps or any other kind of abnormalities around the breast area.
2. Breast ultrasound
If a patient has lump then, doctors carry ultrasound to determine whether the new breast lump is a solid mass or its fluid-filled cyst.
You can call that, it is basically the X-ray of the breast. It is carried out to screen breast cancer. If any abnormalities are detected then further, more tests are done.
4. MRI( Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
MRI machine utilizes the magnet and radio waves to produce the pictures of the interior of the breast. So, one can clearly see if there is any kind of abnormalities or not.
This is the only definitive way to diagnose breast cancer. In this procedure, the patient's breast tissue is taken and then it is sent to the laboratory to look for cancerous cells.
So, these were the tests and procedures that are carried by the doctors.
Once the diagnosis is done the next step is how to treat it. Like what kind of procedures are carried to treat cancer.
How breast cancer is treated?
Basically, what kind of treatment will be given, it all depends on the stage of cancer and also on how big the tumour has grown.
Surgery is a common treatment that is carried out. Additionally, treatments that are carried are chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy. So, let's see all of them in detail:
Different types of surgeries are carried out and it all depends on the stage of cancer like whether you have stage-1, stage-2, stage-3 and stage-4 cancer.
2. Radiation therapy
In it, high-powered beams of radiations are used to kill the cancerous cells.
It is basically a drug treatment which is carried to kill the cancerous cells. Doctors usually prefer doing chemotherapy before surgery with the hope that, this procedure will reduce the size of the tumour and there is no need for the surgery to be carried out.
4. Hormone therapy
If the type of breast cancer that you have is sensitive to hormones, then this procedure is carried out.
Basically, what this procedure does is that it blocks the hormone receptors on the cancer cells. So, this actually slows or stops the growth of more cancerous cells.
These were the four treatments that are carried to treat cancer.
How to prevent it?
The crucial part that comes here is what are the different preventive measures that one should take to prevent the risk of acquiring breast cancer. Let's see them:
1. Regular screening
It is the most important step. Everyone should go for regular screening from time to time.
2. Avoid drinking alcohol
One should not drink alcohol. If one is taking it then, make sure to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
3. Exercise regularly
You should exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. It not only prevents you from acquiring cancer but it will overall make you fit and super active.
4. Eat healthy foods
Add vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains in your diet. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet mixed with nuts and olive oil are at the safer side. So, add this to your diet.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
If your weight is healthy, then maintain it. If you are overweight then do exercises and eat healthy food.
So, if one will follow these strategies then for sure the risk of developing breast cancer becomes less. One should put more stress on this part.
'Breast Cancer awareness month' has helped a lot in spreading awareness across the world. Many people are now aware of its symptoms, risk factors and how one can reduce the risk of developing it.
So, this great initiative was taken to spread awareness. Regular screening is the key that will prevent you from acquiring any kind of cancers.
Spread awareness, remain healthy!
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