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Breast Cancer Health Tips

December 22, 2014
  1. Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.

The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts.

Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels lead to organs called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body. They filter substances in lymph and help fight infection and disease. Clusters of lymph nodes are found near the breast in the axilla (under the arm), above the collarbone, and in the chest.

The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.

 

  1. Age and health history can affect the risk of developing breast cancer.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:

  • Older age.
  • Menstruating at an early age.
  • Older age at first birth or never having given birth.
  • A personal history of breast cancer.
  • A mother or sister with breast cancer.
  • Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest.
  • Breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram.
  • Hormone use (such as estrogen and progesterone).
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Obesity.

 

  1. Breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).

The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person’s parents. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer. Some altered genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups.

Women who have an altered gene related to breast cancer and who have had breast cancer in one breast have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast. These women also have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, and may have an increased risk of developing other cancers. Men who have an altered gene related to breast cancer also have an increased risk of developing this disease.

Tests have been developed that can detect altered genes. These genetic tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer.

 

  1. Tests that examine the breasts are also used to detect (find) and diagnose breast cancer.

 

  • A Mammography, which is an X-ray of the breast, is the best way to detect   breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage – an average of 1-3 years before a woman can feel the lump. Mammography also locates cancers too small to be felt during a clinical breast examination.Note: A negative mammogram does not mean that cancer is not present.
  • A Biopsy, which is the removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy. When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy. When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle biopsy, core biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration.

 

Your doctor at Belize Medical Associates should be seen if changes in the breast are noticed.