Although their odds are much lower than in women, men can also develop breast cancer because they have mammary glands.
Breast cancer is a very common disease for women. Although it is impossible to know who you will touch, as many of the risk factors can not be modified, there are things you can do to have control over your body. Find out. Get to know the details for an early detection, this little action can save your life!
Here we will let you know some questions about breast cancer so that you are more informed on the subject. To be able to do a good early detection, it is necessary to know what this disease is, what the risk factors are, what it is necessary for an early detection and what practices it includes. If you want to know more, we invite you to continue reading.
First things first: What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is caused by the development of a malignant tumor that begins in the cells of the mammary gland. We mean by malignant tumor those tumor cells that are generated in the glandular tissue of the breast and invade the rest of the healthy tissue that surrounds it.
Why is it important to detect it as soon as possible?
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 16% of female cancer cases are diagnosed as breast cancer. It is considered that this is the most frequent type of cancer in the women. Therefore, it is necessary to take special care in the detection of this pathology in time. It is obvious that the sooner it is detected, the greater the chances of initiating the necessary treatments and of achieving healing. To be clear, detecting this disease early can make the difference between life and death.
Breast cancer is a disease that initially has no visible symptoms. It is in turn this ideal moment to attack it. According to the American Cancer Association – and reinforcing the above – almost all cases detected and treated early can be cured. It is proven that the early detection campaigns are highly effective and have reduced the number of deaths from this disease.
As we see, then, early detection is essential from our place. The first step is to inform us and know what we can do to be aware. Here are some utility keys.
Know the risk factors
A risk factor is that element that increases the chances of suffering a certain disease. It is necessary to clarify that having one or several risk factors does not imply that one has or will develop this disease. These are simply indicators that allow us to place ourselves within some of the groups that measure risk. Having a record of these allows us to inform our doctor so that he can take actions accordingly. It is important to know if we are part of the population at risk and what care must be taken from this.
Within risk factors, there are modifiable and non-modifiable factors. Although there is no proven direct relationship between the alterable factors and the disease, there are studies indicating that there is some correlation between them. By knowing them, we can make the necessary changes in our lives.
- Being female: The main risk factor for this disease is to belong to the female gender. Men may develop breast cancer because they have mammary glands, but their odds are much lower than in women.
- Being over 55 years old: Another unchangeable risk factor is age. With age, the risk of developing breast cancer increases. Two out of three patients with invasive breast cancer are older than 55 years.
- Possess a genetic predisposition: Genetics is the third risk factor. Having a family history of breast cancer immediately implies a more rigorous control for early detection. It is estimated that between 5% and 10% of breast cancers are hereditary. According to the American Cancer Association, having or having had a direct blood relative who has had this disease doubles the chances of having this disease at some point in life.
- Having a personal history of breast cancer: This is another unalterable risk factor. A woman who has already had this disease is more likely than the average woman to develop breast cancer again.
- Not having children: Women who have not developed and given birth to children up to the age of 30 are more likely to have breast cancer.
- Not having suckled: In turn, having gone through a lactation process decreases the chances of suffering this type of cancer.
Among the modifiable risk factors we find obesity (especially post menopause), smoking, absence of exercise and estrogen therapy for menopause.
Perform self exams
From the age of 20, you should have breast self-exams. Performing this kind of breast exams regularly allows you to know the shape and how your healthy breast is composed. So, if you find any kind of change, it will be easy to detect. The self-examination does not serve as a screening method if used alone. You should always consult with your primary care doctor what you have found or that causes you doubt.
Knowing your own body and your breasts can allow you to detect abnormalities, such as lumps, inflammations, secretions, temperature increases, changes in size or shape, pain, peeling of the skin, change in coloration of the nipple and its surrounding.
If you are unsure about how to perform these tests, ask your doctor to teach you the correct way to perform these self-exams.
Perform clinical exams
Between the ages of 20 and 40, it is necessary to perform clinical breast exams with your doctor. Between these ages, it is advisable to take the exams every three years.
Get a mammogram
From the age of forty, it is necessary to have a clinical breast exam and a mammogram every year. A mammogram is an x-ray imaging study that explores the consistency and formation of the mammary gland. It is done by medical indication and you must take it when you have it so that the professional can evaluate the results.
Where and how to get a clinical examination and mammogram?
Make an appointment with your gynecologist. In addition to answering all the doubts you have regarding the subject and the risk factors that concern you, can teach you how to perform self exams and do the relevant clinical tests.
Find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and take advantage of the space that gives you in the consultation to formulate all the questions that you think pertinent. He will keep track of how often you have done the various tests and will give you a mammogram when needed.
Well, as you have seen, the detection of breast cancer requires simple actions that we must all take into account to preserve our health. And you, how do you control yourself? Do you know how to do the self-examination? Visits your gynecologist as often as indicated?