26+1 Facts about breast cancer !
1. Is the most common type of cancer among women. 1 in 8 girls will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives.
2. Even men can get breast cancer despite its really rare (<0.7%) for them. Mostly it’s associated with a symptom known as “gynecomastia” (=swelling of the breast tissue in males ,due to hormonal changes, etc.) and specific syndromes such as Kleinefelter.
3. Is one of the most curable types of cancer IF it is diagnosed in the first stages, otherwise it is lethal! Because of that, every 13’ a woman dies from breast cancer.
4. Age plays an important role in the appearance of the disease. It’s pretty rare <30 years and after this age every 10 years the risk doubles, having a higher risk >55 years (due to menopause and hormonal changes associated with that).
5. A balanced diet is always a part of a healthy life. Women who suffer from breast cancer should follow faithfully a strict diet full of vegetables (broccoli, garlic, onions, carotenoids ), fruits, and whole grains. It's really important to stay in this diet even after healing in order to prevent relapse of the disease!
6. Work out on a weekly base is also an important factor to reduce the risk of breast cancer appearance. But how is that possible? Many studies show that, exercise lowers the estrogen levels and other cancer factors in the body. Additionally it helps us maintain an optimal weight!
7. What are the chances of having breast cancer if your mother had? Family predisposition is proven to be another factor in the appearance of breast cancer, but that doesn’t mean you will definitely get breast cancer (about 10-15 in 100 females with breast cancer have a family history). What can you do for that? Every woman should follow annual check-up, and inform her doctor for her family history!
8. The age of a woman’s first pregnancy it can be another factor! Researches show that women who get pregnant and have children at an early age have a lower risk of getting breast cancer. Unfortunately pregnancy after the age of 35 increases the risk a lot.
9. Breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for women and babies health. Among those benefits it seems to help us decrease the risk of breast cancer! World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and after that, a continued combination of solid foods and breastfeeding for 2 years!
10. Mammography represents the X-ray of the breasts. Is the most powerful tool used by doctors for diagnosing tumors even with dimensions smaller than palpable! That actually means, it can detect in early stage masses before symptoms become obvious.
11. Early symptoms that may appear are, swelling (a lump finding or many lumps), breast pain with unknown etiology, changes in the nipples (meaning discoloration, abnormal liquid discharge, or they can turn inwards), skin changes (most common “orange appearance”) ,burning sensation, etc.
12. In women with “more dense” (=having less amount of fat tissue) breast tissue there is an increased risk of 1,5-2 times. The cause may be due to the difficulty of the standard mammography to identify masses, or the high density could be a sign of increased estrogens as well.
13. Digital mammography is a system of a 3D appearance of breast tissue. It is able to provide images with exceptional details by using the same low amount of radiation with the analog mammography (2D). It seems very important in patients with high-density breast tissue such as in fibrocystic breast tissue disease. But generally both analog and digital mammographies are important diagnostic tools! They seem to decrease the mortality of the disease in 20% by helping us detecting each lesion early. It is recommended according to American Center Society and National Cancer Institute after the age of 50 a mamography every one or two years. Guidelines differ for women with higher risk for developing breast cancer.
14. Exposure to ionizing radiation (X-rays, gamma rays) from young age and for a long period of time (ex. therapeutic radiation for Hodgkin lymphoma), may increase the risk.
15. Does using deodorant together with shaving increase the risk for breast cancer? Medical society has not a clear answer yet. But according to some studies, they can cause a slight irritation but there’s no certain association with carcinogens that may lead to breast cancer.
16. Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives and are present in almost every industrial product (make-ups, skin care products like sunscreen, lotions, shampoo, even food). Despite the fact that a small amount is absorbed by our body they don’t seem to cause health problems.
17. Other screening types include, breast ultrasound and breast MRI. Breast MRI is mainly a post-diagnostic procedure to identify tumor dimensions and characteristics. It is NOT recommended as a primary diagnosing tool because there are chances of a “false-positive" result.
18. Exposure to estrogens! High amounts of estrogens, for example in post-menopausal hormone therapy or in case of polycystic ovarian syndrome therapy, may increase the risk for breast cancer slightly.
19. Breast cancer patients appear to be highly susceptible to thromboembolic complications (most common deep vein thrombosis).
20. Scientists from Aberdeen University are investigating, natural sharks’ antibodies and their possible use in a target therapy for breast cancer!
21. Do you have gum disease? According to some studies, there is actually an association between breast cancer and gingivitis (the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth).So you should probably floss your teeth more often and visit your dentist as well.
22. Experimental vaccines against breast cancer have been developed by several cancer centers worldwide, without having any result yet!
23. Left breast has a slightly higher risk of developing cancer than the right. Most common locations of the disease appear to be upper outer quadrant and periareolar space.
24. During the 14th century breast cancer, was also called “Nun’s disease”. Although today we know that there is an association of nulliparity and breast cancer appearance.
25. Breast implants are associated with an increased risk of developing a rare type of breast cancer. Thus the overall risk is very low according to latest studies.
26. Treatment There are several types of therapeutical approaches, such as surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological radiation, sometimes together with complementary and alternative therapy (using herbs, vitamins, etc.).Nowadays thought, each patient’s treatment is personalized, through “target therapy”.
27. 27-years have passed since the 1st NYC race for the cure. At that day, 13th of October 1991, 25.000 women participated! That was the 1st day, when pink ribbon was being used as a symbol for breast cancer awareness. Charlotte Hayley was the first to introduce the ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer awareness, which was originally peach. Later on, Evelyn Lauder (senior vice president of cosmetics company Estee Lauder) together with Alexander Penney (editor in chief of self magazine) adopted the “ribbon idea” from Charlotte Hayley and for commercial reasons they re-colored it pink. A color which symbolizes the female nature.
About Author: Dr. Chrysoula Valaroutsou is a Greek medical doctor graduated from UOC (english division Constanta,Romania). She is passionate about medicine and always eager to learn more. She has lots of love and loyalty towards serving mankind.
oxford handbook of oncology, www.pinkribbon.org , www.wrcf.com , www.who.org , www.THETRUTHABOUTCANCER.COM , www.cancer.org , www.breastcancernow.org , www.americancancersociety.org ,www.abdn.ac.uk