Raising Breast Cancer Awareness During the Month of October

Breast cancer is a serious health condition that affects many patients yearly in the United States. Given that October is dedicated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there’s no better time than now to discover more about the risk factors surrounding this medical concern, as well as methods of prevention and the importance of scheduling routine screenings.

Breast cancer, like all forms of cancer, results when aggregates of cells begin dividing irregularly and at an accelerated rate, rather than progressing through their normal life cycles and biological course. Many times, breast cancer initiates in the milk-generating structures (lobules) when DNA in these cells begins to transmute. In situations where mutated cells develop more rapidly than the body can expel them, the mass of cells aggregate to form a tumor.

Growths or tumors in the breast can form in many parts of milk-secreting tissues, or even in the adipose (fat) tissue that surrounds and shields the milk-producing structures of the breast. In rare instances, cancer of the breast can even spread to further regions around the body, including the digestive tract. Under such circumstances, the physicians at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans, LA collaborate with other practitioners to provide care for any metastatic concerns involving the gastrointestinal tract. Ensuring an early breast cancer diagnosis is key to preserving your overall health and wellness.

What are breast cancer risk factors?

One out of every eight women will have breast cancer at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common forms of cancer impacting women. Medical experts estimate that more than 280,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis throughout 2021, and almost 50,000 will receive a noninvasive carcinoma in situ breast cancer diagnosis.

Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 55 years of age, although breast cancer is still among the chief fatalities among women between the ages of 35 and 55. Non-Hispanic African American women and non-Hispanic white women are the most likely to get cancer of the breast, although Latina women and African American women have a higher probability of dying due to the condition.

Genetic factors also pose an elevated risk of developing the condition. Individuals with relatives who have had cancer of the breast are more likely to develop the condition. Though hereditary factors, being female, and being of older age cannot be changed, there are several things that an individual can do to prevent or lessen the chance of developing breast cancer.

Other breast cancer risk factors include:

  • Poor diet
  • Radiation treatment before age 30
  • Becoming pregnant after age 30
  • Being overweight
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Breastfeeding for under a year
  • Inadequate amounts of vitamin D
  • Tobacco use
  • Taking hormones, such as chemical contraceptives
  • Lack of exercise

Improving your lifestyle while receiving regular screenings can help lower your risk of breast cancer, particularly if any of the above factors apply to your life.

What are the various types of breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast is diagnosed as either invasive (also called malignant) or noninvasive carcinoma in situ. Cancers that are noninvasive are groups of cells that generally grow in one location, splitting haphazardly but not becoming modified in excess of their basic functions in further ways. These cells can be removed through a surgical procedure and are less likely to reform.

Invasive types of tumors are more concerning since they expand branches of cells into the neighboring area, in some cases even disconnecting pieces of themselves and propagating throughout the body. Malignant cancers could also produce and give off harmful hormones and other factors that negatively impact bodily tissues.

The general classifications of breast cancer include:

  • Angiosarcoma: Angiosarcoma is a rare variation of cancer that starts in the blood vessels, lymph vessels, or skin.
  • Lobular carcinoma: Lobular carcinoma begins in the glands that produce milk, or lobules. When this type of carcinoma is in situ, it is regarded as the least threatening type of breast cancer and is less likely to grow. However, it should still be treated as specified by a doctor, as its existence might indicate the likelihood of more tumors developing as time goes on. In cases where lobular carcinomas are diagnosed as invasive, they are generally more detrimental and are particularly hard to detect.
  • Phyllodes tumors: Phyllodes tumors are non-malignant and begin in connective tissue fibers.
  • Paget disease of the nipple: This type of breast cancer originates in the nipple or the areola.
  • Ductal carcinoma: Originating in the milk ducts, this type of cancer can be invasive, meaning it spreads out of the milk duct into other parts of the breast. It can also be in situ, which means it remains in the milk ducts. If detected in the very early stage, in situ cancers are generally simple to address; however, they are at risk of becoming malignant without treatment. Nearly 80% of breast carcinomas are diagnosed as invasive ductal carcinomas.

About breast cancer screenings

The most effective way to prevent breast cancer, in addition to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, is to schedule screenings for breast cancer routinely. These screenings often include a clinical assessment along with a mammogram, or x-ray imaging of the breast tissue designed to discover areas of dense tissue within the breast. Regular breast exams are particularly essential for detecting breast cancer in the early stages and enabling the greatest possible treatment results. You can also carry out breast cancer self-exams and should do so on a regular basis. A doctor can demonstrate how to do this correctly.

Arrange for a breast cancer screening

The experts at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates are honored to celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and urge residents in New Orleans, LA to help protect their overall health by having regular examinations for breast cancer. It is vital to have routine breast cancer screenings with a qualified physician to determine the most effective options for diagnosing breast cancer and the best way to protect your health.