Frequently Asked Questions

A startling fact is that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Why is early detection a women’s best defense against breast cancer?

If detected early, breast cancer can often be treated effectively with surgery that preserves the breast. Five-year survival after treatment for localized breast cancer is 96.3%. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

 

Are there things I can do to reduce my risk of breast cancer? The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends nine diet and lifestyle guidelines.

  • Don't smoke
  • Maintain a maximum body mass index of 25 and limit weight gain to no more than 11 pounds after age 18
  • Engage in daily moderate and weekly vigorous physical activity
  • Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day
  • Eat seven or more portions of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and cereals each day and limit processed foods and refined sugar.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks to one drink a day for women
  • Limit red meat to about three ounces daily
  • Limit intake of fatty foods, particularly those of animal origin
  • Limit intake of salted foods and use of salt in cooking

A high-risk woman who has a strong family history of breast cancer may wish to consult a genetic counselor about testing for breast cancer genes, and surgical and chemopreventative measures.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

  • An abnormality that shows up on a mammogram before physical symptoms develop.
  • A lump in the breast.
  • A thickening, swelling, distortion or tenderness in the breast.
  • Skin irritation or dimpling in the breast.
  • Nipple pain, scaliness or retraction.

Note: breast pain is very commonly due to benign conditions and is not usually the first symptom of breast cancer. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

 

What are the guidelines women should follow regarding breast health?

Women should follow these 3 steps to good breast health:

  • Perform monthly breast self-exams, starting at age 20.
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years (annually after 40).
  • Have annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40, earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer or other concerns about your personal risk.

(Source: American Cancer Society)

 

Breast cancer starts from the mutation of a single cell in the breast.

Several mutations are thought to be necessary over a span of a number of years before the cell is in the mode of uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells we call cancer. It is hard to believe, but at the time of diagnosis, most women have probably had their breast cancer for five to eight years. The rate of division and rapidity of growth varies and unchecked, breast cancer can eventually form a mass (tumor) and spread to other parts of the body via the blood and lymph system.

 

Only about 5-10% of all breast cancers are inherited.

Children can inherit an altered breast cancer susceptibility gene from either their mother or father. Most women—about 80%—who get breast cancer do not have a sister or mother who has breast cancer. While all breast cancer is genetic in origin, most of it is not inherited. (Source: The Breast Cancer Survival Manual by Dr. John Link, American Cancer Society)

 

What are the risk factors for developing breast cancer? 

In most cases, doctors cannot explain why a woman develops breast cancer. Studies show that most women who develop breast cancer have none of the risk factors listed below, other than the risk that comes with growing older. Also, most women with known risk factors do not get breast cancer. Scientists are conducting research into the causes of breast cancer to learn more about risk factors and ways of preventing this disease.

 

 

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