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  What I Should Know About Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer is the most common type of cancer in women.

Heightened awareness about breast cancer risk in the past decades has led to an increase in the number of women undergoing mammography for screening, leading to detection of cancers in earlier stages and a resultant improvement in survival rates.

Still, breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 45 and 55.

Although breast cancer in women is a common form of cancer, with advances in screening, diagnosis, and treatment, the death rate for breast cancer has declined by about 20% over the past decade, and research is ongoing to develop even more effective screening and treatment programs.

Cancer Process

  • Cancer begins in the cells of the body. Cells are the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body.
  • Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die, and new cells take their place.
  • Sometimes, this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.
 

Tumors can be Benign or Malignant:

  • Benign tumors are not cancer.
  • Malignant tumors are cancer.
 

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer.

Research has shown that women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. The risk factors include:-

  • Age.
  • Personal history of breast cancer.
  • Family history of breast cancer.
  • Certain breast changes.
  • Gene changes.
  • Reproductive and menstrual conditions.
  • Race.
  • Radiation therapy to the chest.
  • Breast density.
  • Taking DES (diethylstilbestrol).
  • Being overweight or obese after menopause.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Drinking alcohol.
 

Other possible risk factors are under study. Researchers are studying the effect of diet, physical activity, and genetics on breast cancer risk. They are also studying whether certain substances in the environment can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Screening Process for Breast Cancer

  • Screening mammogram.
  • Clinical breast examination.
  • Breast self-examination.
 

Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels.
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
  • Nipple tenderness.
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks.
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast.
  • The skin of the breast, areola, or nipple may be scaly, red, or swollen. It may have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange.
  • Nipple discharge (fluid).
  • Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. Still, a woman should see her health care provider about breast pain or any other symptom that does not go away.
 

Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

  • Clinical breast examination.
  • Diagnostic mammogram.
  • Ultrasound of the breast.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Biopsy.
  • Fine-needle aspiration cytology.
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