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5 Things You Need to Know about Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S. With the help of new research techniques, we are reducing the number of new cases reported every year.

Breast Cancer Statistics in the U.S.

In 2019 it is estimated that 268,000 new cases of Breast Cancer will be reported. This does not include people who have already been diagnosed and currently receive treatment.

This type of cancer is very prominent in the women’s population with about 1 in every 8 women likely to develop Breast Cancer over her lifetime. In men, there is a 1 out of 883 chance that he may develop Breast Cancer in his lifetime.

In our most recent years, we have achieved lower percentages of people being diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Women under 50 have seen the largest decrease in Breast Cancer diagnoses. This reduction is most likely due to a study called the Women’s Health Initiative where they found a link between the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and Breast Cancer.

Even with new research and early symptom education, about 41,760 women in the U.S. are expected to die from Breast Cancer in 2019. Currently, there is no identified cause of Breast Cancer in women. About 5-10 % of diagnoses can be linked to gene mutations inherited from a person’s mother or father.

A women’s likelihood of developing Breast Cancer virtually doubles if she has a 1st relative who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Certain ethnicities are more vulnerable to developing Breast Cancer over time. African-American women are more likely to die from Breast Cancer than women of Hispanic, Asian, and Native-American descent.

About 85% of women who’ve been diagnosed with Breast Cancer have no history of Breast Cancer in their family. The only risk linked to Breast Cancer is being a woman and growing older.

Early Detection Symptoms and Signs

The key to early detection is becoming familiar with the possible symptoms and signs associated with Breast Cancer. Symptoms of Breast Cancer can vary from person to person. Here are some common symptoms and signs that may point to a possible diagnosis:

  • Enlarged size or a change in shape in one or both breasts
  • Nipple discharge other than lactation after pregnancy
  • Any persistent pain in any parts of the breast
  • Lumps located in or on the breasts
  • Swelling, redness, or skin changes on one or both breasts
  • Nipple changes in regards to color or general look

If you notice one or more of these symptoms you should contact your medical provider as soon as possible. Since this type of cancer is so common among women, it important to be checked routinely especially if you are a woman over 50.

How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

At this point there is a possible sign you may have breast cancer, so what are your next steps as far as a diagnosis? There are a few tests your physician may order to determine if you have Breast Cancer:

  • Diagnostic Mammogram: a more detailed x-ray of the breast compared to a screening mammogram. Uses radiation that penetrates the human body to create a detailed image of areas inside a breast.
  • Ultrasound: uses sound waves to detect and differentiate between a solid or cystic masses. This type of scan is virtually harm-less and shows detailed information about breast tissue. You can also determine the size and location of a possible tumor.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI): uses a magnet to send magnetic and radio waves into the breast tissue, which returns to a computer. This information is then translated into an image that may detect the presence of a cancerous tumor. This type of scan may be used if other tests come back inconclusive.
  • Biopsy: this is the only way to truly determine if there is cancer present. Tissue or fluid is removed from the breast then put under a microscope.
  • Lab tests: will be ordered if you’ve been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Additional lab tests are important to know to choose the right treatment plan for you.

Which Breast Cancer Treatment is Right for Me?

Treatment depends on the type of Breast Cancer and the stage of Breast Cancer. Different specialized doctors assist with different types of treatment. It is common for someone who has Breast Cancer to use one or more treatments at a time.

To choose the best treatment for you, create a plan with your physician according to your diagnosis. There are various types of treatment that include:

  • Chemotherapy:uses drugs that are injected through a needle or a pill that targets cancer cells. This type of therapy is usually paired with other treatments such as; surgery, radiation and hormonal therapy.
  • Hormonal Therapy: Hormone therapy (also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy) slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the body’s ability to produce hormones or by interfering with effects of hormones on breast cancer cells (source: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-hormone-therapy-fact-sheet)
  • Surgery: includes two types,Lumpectomy: where a surgeon will remove the tumor along with tissues that surround it, but preserving the breasts. The amount of tissue removed varies. Mastectomy: where a surgeon will remove the entire breast.

Choosing the right treatment can be overwhelming. It is important to know the side-effects associated with each treatment. Talk to your physician about all the possible avenues you can take to choose which one is best for you and your family.

Breast Cancer Survival Rates in Men and Women

Looking back two decades ago the average survival rate in the U.S. has increased. Many factors come into play when observing possible survival rates including:

  • the stage of breast cancer (if it has spread to other parts of the body)
  • the size of the breast cancer
  • how fast the cancer is growing
  • your age
  • if this is your first diagnosis or a reoccurrence
  • if you have underlying health issues
  • the type of breast cancer

Most people who have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer average about 5 years. This varies from person to person depending on their overall health. Although this is the national average many people live past the initial 5-year estimate.

It’s important to remember that other health issues can change an individual’s survival chances. Obtained from my research, the survival rate for women in the U.S. are:

Breast Cancer Stage5-Year Survival Rate for Women
0100%
I100%
II93%
III72%
IV22%

According to this data, early detection is our number one prevention tool. The earlier the diagnosis the longer the survival rate. This also varies depending on a person’s health. A man’s 5-year survival rate is almost identical:

Breast Cancer Stage5-Year Survival Rate for Men
0100%
I100%
II91%
III72%
IV20%

Survival rates vary considerably. It’s very important to look for early symptoms and signs of Breast Cancer. Without the proper knowledge, you may miss your chance to be treated before irreversible damage.

Be sure to schedule routine check-ups with your provider. This is your best chance at catching abnormal tissues located in the breasts that can be seen with diagnostic tests. Although there is no cure for Breast Cancer, survival rates continue to increase with improved testing and treatments.

Ways to Find More Information about Breast Cancer:

https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/breast-cancer/symptoms

https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-diagnosis/

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/treatment.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chemotherapy-for-breast-cancer/about/pac-20384931

https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-hormone-therapy-fact-sheet

https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Surgery.html

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