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    Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention Tips

    Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention Tips

    January 3, 2024

    Why is Breast Cancer Awareness Important?

    Breast cancer is one of the top causes of cancer-related deaths in women and is typical in women more than men but may also affect men. In a recent study by ICMR, it has been found that the five-year survival rate of females in India diagnosed with breast cancer stands at 66.4%. This is significantly lower than in other countries, and reasons for such observation may be attributed to delayed diagnosis and timely access to treatment facilities. This occurs largely due to the fact that women are unaware of the potentially fatal risks of breast cancer and how newer, more affordable treatment options can help improve outcomes and prognosis.

    Randomised clinical trials have also revealed that women undergoing screening for tumour detection have been diagnosed at early stages of breast cancer than those who haven’t. This demonstrates a clear picture of the importance of breast cancer awareness and regular screening to commence early treatment for an improved outlook for breast cancer.

    What Causes Breast Cancer?

    While researchers have not been able to single out a specific reason for developing breast cancer, it may mostly occur due to a combination of genetic factors and mutations. Breast cancer usually commences when breast cells mutate and become cancerous. These cancerous cells further divide and multiply, usually at a more rapid pace compared to healthy cells, and accumulate, forming a mass or lump.

    Further, these cancerous cells may pervade fast into the adjoining healthy tissues of the breasts and spread into the lymph nodes or to other body parts like the lungs, liver, and even the brain. Breast cancer cells may develop in the cells of the glandular tissues or lobules (invasive lobular carcinoma) or in those of the milk-producing ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma), which tend to be quite aggressive and spread to nearby healthy tissues and organs of the body.

    What triggers this change has not been identified, but certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of these mutations. However, some people with no known risk factors may also develop breast cancer, but some with those risk factors may not. The cause behind such an occurrence is yet unknown.

    Exploring Risk Factors of Breast Cancer 

    A breast cancer risk factor is one that raises the likelihood of developing breast cancer, but not definitely. Having one or more risk factors for breast cancer doesn’t necessarily insinuate that the person will most definitely get breast cancer. Sometimes, many women developing breast cancer have no known risk factors other than being female. However, the development of breast cancer is considered to be caused by genetic mutations triggered by a complex interaction between an individual’s genetic makeup and different environmental factors.

    The risk factors associated include:

    • Gender: Having a female gender increases your likelihood of developing breast cancer more than men. Nevertheless, about 1% of males may also get breast cancer.
    • Having a family or personal history of breast cancer: If someone is genetically linked to a person having breast cancer, or they themselves have had a history of breast cancer in one breast, they are more likely to develop breast cancer. However, people without such a history have also been diagnosed with breast cancer.
    • Being older than 50: Older people are more likely to develop breast cancer.
    • Being obese or overweight after menopause
    • Smoking: The use of tobacco has been associated with different cancer types, including breast cancer.
    • Alcohol consumption: There is a possible link between alcohol consumption and an increased cancer risk.
    • History of chest irradiation: If a person has been exposed to radiation to the chest during treatments, the risk of breast cancer increases.
    • Undergoing hormone replacement therapy: People using hormone replacement therapy may have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
    • Certain inherited genes: Having certain genes, such as BRCA 1 or BRCA 2, may increase the risk of breast cancer, but it doesn’t signify a sign of the inevitable occurrence of cancer.

    Preventing Breast Cancer & How Screening Helps

    If a person has some known risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history, they may benefit from screening. Self-examinations and mammograms can aid in detecting breast cancer early on, which helps to treat breast cancer at the earliest.

    Screening Tests

    Screening tests may be offered to women who feel fine and without a known risk factor of breast cancer. It may be performed by a doctor at their clinic (clinical breast examination). A doctor may also recommend imaging tests that may help identify lumps within the masses of breasts. In addition, the doctor can suggest a breast ultrasound, mammogram, and breast MRI.

    Breast awareness alone may not be able to prevent breast cancer, but having a better understanding of the anatomy of the breast, a person can identify any unusual changes or appearance of signs on the breasts. This may aid in the early detection of breast cancer and take better preventive measures before it advances.

    Preventive Care for Breast Cancer

    Although there’s no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, making healthier lifestyle choices and undergoing regular screening tests may be beneficial for primary prevention.

    • Reach and maintain a healthy weight: Obesity and overweight have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, including breast cancer. So, try to reach a weight that’s right. Seek assistance from a registered healthcare provider for setting up a weight management plan.
    • Consume a healthy diet: Eating whole foods rich in lean proteins and healthy fats, along with nutrients from vegetables and fruits, may help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Avoid processed and red meat to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
    • Avoid alcohol: Alcohol should be avoided if possible or consumed within a limit.
    • Doing enough physical activity: It has been proven that physical activity can lower the breast cancer risk.
    • Get regular screenings: Mammograms may help detect lumps or tumours in the breasts when they’re too small to be felt. Thus, it may aid in early identification of breast cancer.
    • Perform self-exam on the breasts: Understand the anatomy of the breasts and learn how to perform the external examination on yourself, as it may help find lumps and prompt a formal diagnosis of the lumps.

    Breast Cancer Screening at Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka

    Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka, has always upheld the importance of breast cancer screening for early detection and diagnosis for better treatment and management. With the assistance of advanced, state-of-the-art equipment for performing screening and diagnostic tests for breast cancer, we ensure adherence to the standardised diagnostic measures for utmost patient comfort and accurate evaluation.

    We encourage breast screening every three years after the age of 40 as breast cancer screening at Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka, offers the best chance of discovering breast cancer early.

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