Breast cancer affects thousands of men and women each year and screening is unfortunately overlooked all too often.
Many women find mammograms painful and embarrassing hence hesitate when urged to get screened.
And some men may not realize they too have breast tissue and are at risk for breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and #ShirtsOff reminds us to examine ourselves, get screened, and look for changes in our breasts.
Signs of breast cancer include
- A lump inside the breast or under the arm
- Breast pain
- Change in breast shape
- Nipple discharge
- Nipple bleeding
- Sore on the breast
- Change in skin texture
How common is breast cancer?
1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US with 63,960 cases of non-invasive breast cancer, a rise from last year.
40,920 women and 480 men are expected to die this year of breast cancer.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age greater than 50
- Family History
- BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic mutations
- Alcohol use
- Never been pregnant or becoming pregnant for the first time over 35 years old
- Early menarche at age 11 or younger
- Obesity, especially after menopause
- Dense breasts
- Lack of physical activity
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Previous “precancerous” tumors such as atypical hyperplasia
- DES exposure
- Previous radiation therapy
How is breast cancer staged?
Breast cancer is staged based on size of the tumor, if lymph nodes are affected and whether the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body. Prognosis varies greatly on the stage.
IMAGE ABOVE FROM JOHNSTON HEALTH
Is family history a huge factor?
85% of breast cancer cases occur in women with NO family history.
Screening of breast cancer
Mammograms are the first line screening tool for breast cancer and are currently recommended biennial for women aged 50-74. However for those at higher risk, mammogram screening should start earlier, with possible follow-up ultrasound, and be performed more regularly.
3-D MAMMOGRAM IMAGE
3-D Mammograms use some of the most sensitive technology in screening.
Dr. William Boren, owner of West Valley Imaging in Las Vegas, Nevada, states “3-D Mammograms reportedly find up to 40% more cancers, allowing a topographic view of the tissue.”
Dr. Boren also recommends to “not leave big gaps between screening. If you start screening at age 40, then continue yearly screens.”
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.
She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada