Tomorrow will be October and it’s breast cancer awareness month. This is one of the dreadful killers (most frequently on women). So, i guess we need to be informed or at least know something about this. I personally knew women who died of this cancer: my friend (who used to be my son’s babysitter, my husband’s cousin, and 2 of his aunts, and many more of our friends and acquaintances). God bless their souls. My mother-in-law survived this cancer. She had now one breast though and has gone through a lot: medications & chemotherapies.
So for today’s Five-Day, here are some helpful info’s:
1. What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a tumour in the breast that contains cancerous cells. A breast tumour is a lump created by an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells. It can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous). Nine out of 10 breast lumps are benign.
There are a number of different types of breast cancer, including some rare types, such as inflammatory breast cancer and Pagets disease. However, there are two main types of breast cancer. These are described below.
Non-invasive breast cancers
Non-invasive breast cancers are cancers that stay within the ducts or lobes of your breast and don’t spread to surrounding tissue or to other parts of the body. The most common type of non-invasive breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This is a very early type of breast cancer where the cancer cells are only found inside the milk ducts and haven’t spread into the breast tissue. In some cases, DCIS can develop into an invasive form of breast cancer.
Invasive breast cancers
Invasive breast cancers are cancers that have spread from the ducts or lobes of your breast into the surrounding tissue. The most common type of invasive breast cancer is called invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), where the cancer cells are in the ducts and the breast tissue. Around eight out of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer have this type. About one in ten women diagnosed with breast cancer have invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), which starts growing in the lobes, but can spread to other parts of the breast. Both IDC and ILC can spread to other parts of the body.
2. Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Some women don’t notice any changes in their breasts and breast cancer is found when they go for breast screening.
However, many women notice a breast lump or a change in the overlying skin or nipple. About nine out of 10 breast lumps aren’t cancer, but if you do find a lump, you should see your GP straightaway. There are also other symptoms to look out for:
– a change in the shape or size of your breasts
– a different shape to your nipple – for example, it may turn inwards or become irregular in shape
– dimpled skin
– a rash on or around your nipple
– blood-stained discharge from your nipple
– swelling or a lump in your armpit
These symptoms may be caused by problems other than breast cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, visit your GP for advice.
3. Causes of Breast Cancer
The cause of breast cancer isn’t yet fully understood. However, there are certain factors that make developing breast cancer more likely. You’re more likely to develop breast cancer if you:
– are over 50 and have had either benign or malignant breast cancer before
– started your periods early or your menopause late
– have been exposed to radiation
– had a first pregnancy after the age of 30, or don’t have children
– eat a lot of high-fat foods or drink more than the recommended limit of 14 units a week of alcohol
– are overweight and have been through the menopause
– have a close family member who has had breast cancer
– take the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), though this increased risk is small
4. Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you. He or she may also ask you about your medical history and examine your breasts.
Your GP may refer you to a specialist breast clinic where you’re likely to have further tests. The most common tests are listed below.
Ultrasound scan or mammogram. An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to produce an image of the inside of the body/or part of the body. This is usually done if you’re under the age of 35. A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breasts.
Biopsy. Your doctor will take a small sample of tissue or cells. This will be sent to a laboratory for testing to determine the types of cells and if these are benign (not cancerous) or cancerous.
If you’re found to have cancer, you may need to have other tests to assess if the cancer has spread. The process of finding out the stage of a cancer is called staging. The tests might include blood tests and a chest X-ray. Your doctor may also arrange for you to have a scan such as a CT (computerised axial tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. These scans produce images of the inside of your body and can help your doctor to see if the cancer has spread.
5. Prevention of Breast Cancer
The NHS Breast Screening Programme invites all women between the ages of 50 and 70 for breast screening every three years. Breast screening means having a mammogram. This can help to show very early signs of any cancer.
You can also check your breasts regularly yourself. By being aware of how your breasts look and feel you can spot any changes quickly. See your GP if you notice any changes in your breasts.
Maintaining a healthy weight, breastfeeding, and not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may help to protect against breast cancer.
Getting enough vitamin D may reduce your risk of developing a number of cancers, including breast cancer – although more research needs to be done to be certain. Vitamin D is also well known to be important for bone health.
Vitamin D is produced naturally by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight and can also be obtained from some foods, such as oily fish. You may get enough vitamin D during summer by spending frequent short spells in the sun without wearing sunscreen (the exact time you need is different for everyone, but is typically only a few minutes in the middle of the day). However, do not let your skin redden. If you don’t get much sun exposure and particularly during winter months, taking up to 25 micrograms of vitamin D a day (two high-strength 12.5 microgram capsules) can help to make sure you get enough.
Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your supplements and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your pharmacist or GP for advice first. Talk to your GP before taking vitamin D supplements if you are taking diuretics for high blood pressure or have a history of kidney stones or kidney failure.