BREAST CANCER: An awareness guide

A woman and her breasts hit their milestones together. Through the course of her life, her breasts continually undergo changes that change her in turn. The growth of breasts in puberty takes away the sense of a child from her, and slowly, when she gets comfortable with herself, further enlargement of breasts happens during pregnancy, which gives her a new identity as a responsible mom. She provides health and comfort for her child through breastfeeding ,and that sense of motherliness becomes irreplaceable. Slowly, as she hits menopause, she becomes tired, and so do her breasts. It starts sagging and losing its elasticity and strength. And the process continues; as she ages, so do her breasts. With respect to the importance breasts play in a woman’s life, can the same pose a threat to her life in the form of cancer? 

What is breast cancer ?

Skin, hair, and breasts play an important role for women on an evolutionary basis, and it is something they care for instinctively. But did you know that the same parts are susceptible to cancer and can put them at risk? The development of cancerous cells in one breast or both breasts leads to breast cancer. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and is the second leading cause of death among women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most commonly, it affects women, but according to the World Health Organization, it can also affect about 0.5–1%% of men.

How to identify breast cancer ?

Breast cancer is a concerning issue, but it can be very difficult to identify. Because it sometimes shows itself with clear symptoms and sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does, it shows the following symptoms:

  • Change in the size, shape, or outline of your breast
  • Presence of a lump in your breast or underarm
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple or the breast area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Pulling in the nipple
  • Swelling of all or even part of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple or breast area

 It is important to seek medical attention when you observe these symptoms in your breasts.

What are the risk factors?

Breast cancer can be overwhelming but it is better to keep yourself aware of the risk factors. Generally, there is no specific cause for breast cancer but various factors ranging from age to genes can play a role in you acquiring breast cancer. A few causes include:

  • Being 55 or older 
  • Mostly women than men 
  • A family history of breast cancer  
  • If you have genetic mutations and carry specific genes like BRCA1 AND BRCA 
  • Smoking 
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Radiation exposure 
  • Underwent hormone replacement therapy 

How to diagnose breast cancer ?

The symptoms of breast cancer can sometimes be confusing. But with the help of medical experts, you can clear your doubts. The first level of diagnosis includes a physical examination. If doctors find any abnormalities, they order imaging tests such as mammograms or ultrasounds. For further clearance, they suggest a biopsy, in which a tissue is under microscopic testing.

But, can breast cancer be treated ?

Breast cancer is a maligning condition, and it can spread to other parts of your body. But before it spreads, it is important to treat it. The treatment for breast cancer includes different types of surgeries in combination with other therapies. 

The surgeries include

  • Mastectomy
  • Lumpectomy 
  • Breast reconstruction 

The other therapies include

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Radiation therapy 
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy 

Breast cancer has a common prevalence, but at the same time,  there are required treatments. It is very important to detect the symptoms and get them treated early before they go out of hand. There are a fair percentage of women who have fought breast cancer and become cancer warriors. A lot of women and men still lack awareness about breast cancer. That is why October is celebrated as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” every year. Various organizations around the world spread awareness about this cause, carrying their hope through pink ribbons.

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