Breast Cancer Facts, Risk Factors, and Screenings

Breast Cancer Stats and Facts

Breast cancer is a concerning health issue that affects the lives of numerous patients annually across the nation. With October slated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is a good time to learn more about breast cancer facts, risk factors, and prevention.

Similar to all cancer types, breast cancer develops when groups of cells start to divide irregularly and exceedingly, as opposed to undergoing their typical processes and life cycles. Often, breast cancer begins in the milk-yielding structures (ducts) when DNA in these cells starts to modulate. If altered cells develop more quickly than the body can expel them, the mass of cells aggregates to form a tumor.

An abnormal tissue mass in the breast can develop in various parts of glandular tissue, as well as in the fat (adipose) tissue that surrounds and protects the milk-producing areas of the breast. While rare, cancer of the breast can even metastasize to further structures of the body, including the gastrointestinal (GI) system. In these instances, the physicians at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans, LA collaborate with other practitioners and specialists to treat and manage any GI metastatic concerns. Getting a breast cancer diagnosis as early as possible is vital to safeguarding your overall health and wellness.

Am I at risk for breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast is among the most common types of cancer affecting women, and one out of every eight women will experience the condition during their lives. Medical experts anticipate that greater than 280,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during 2021, and approximately 50,000 women will receive a noninvasive carcinoma in situ breast cancer diagnosis.

Most women who develop breast cancer are older than 55; however, breast cancer ranks as one of the principal causes of death among women between the ages of 35 and 55. Non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic African American women are the most likely to get breast cancer, although Latina women and African American women are most likely to die from the disease.

Hereditary factors also present an increased chance of developing the condition. Patients with family members who have had cancer of the breast are at an elevated risk of developing the disease at some point in their lives. Although being female, of older age, and a person's genetics can not be altered, there are numerous things a person can do to lessen the chance of or prevent breast cancer.

Various other factors that may elevate the chance of developing breast cancer include:

  • Breastfeeding for under a year

  • Taking hormones, such as chemical contraceptives

  • Lack of exercise

  • Smoking

  • Inadequate amounts of vitamin D

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Being overweight

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

  • Radiation treatment earlier than age 30

  • Becoming pregnant over the age of 30

  • Alcohol use

Changing things in your lifestyle as well as receiving regular exams can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer, particularly if any of the factors mentioned above are present in your life.

Understanding the various breast cancer types

Cancer of the breast can be either noninvasive carcinoma in situ or invasive (also called malignant). Cancers of a noninvasive nature are lumps of cells that tend to grow in one location, reproducing atypically but not becoming modified beyond their fundamental tasks in other ways. These cells often can be removed via surgery and are less likely to reform.

Invasive breast cancers are more threatening given that they expand threads of cells into the adjacent tissues, in some cases even detaching remnants of themselves and scattering to other tissues throughout the body. Malignant tumors might additionally generate and release harmful hormones and further substances that unfavorably affect an individual's health.

The classifications of breast cancer are as follows:

  • Ductal carcinoma: Originating in the milk ducts, this type of cancer can be invasive, spreading beyond the mild duct and affecting other regions of the breast. It can also be in situ, meaning it remains in the milk ducts. In the event that it is detected early enough, in situ cancers are relatively simple to treat, but they might become malignant in the absence of treatment. Unfortunately, nearly 80% of breast cancer cases are invasive ductal carcinomas.

  • Paget disease of the nipple: This is cancer that begins in the areola or nipple.

  • Lobular carcinoma: This form of cancer starts in the milk-producing glands (lobules). When this type of tumor is in situ, it is the least harmful form of breast tumor since it is not likely to branch out. Even still, it should still be treated as recommended by a physician, as its existence could signify the possibility of further tumor development as time goes on. In instances where lobular carcinomas are diagnosed as invasive, they are generally more harmful and especially hard to identify.

  • Angiosarcoma: This less common form of carcinoma begins in the skin, blood vessels, or lymph vessels.

  • Phyllodes tumors: These non-malignant tumors originate in connective tissue fibers.

Why are breast cancer screenings important?

In addition to following a healthy and active lifestyle, the most effective way to reduce the risk of break cancer is to receive routine screenings. Breast cancer screenings commonly include a clinical assessment followed by a mammogram, which is radiographic imaging of the breast performed to detect overly dense breast tissue Regular breast exams are especially essential for detecting breast cancer early and enabling the greatest possible health results. Individuals can also conduct a self-examination of their breasts and should do so routinely. A physician can provide information on how to conduct this in the correct way.

Schedule a breast cancer screening

The specialists at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates are pleased to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month and urge residents in New Orleans, LA to help protect their general health by getting regular screenings for breast cancer. To determine the ideal procedures for breast cancer diagnosis and the best way to preserve your health, it is essential to undergo routine breast cancer screenings with a skilled healthcare practitioner.