According to The National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. In addition, it is a global problem as the most common cancer in women. Although this is mainly known as a women’s disease, men can also be affected. Because of these alarming statistics, I am sure we all know someone connected with breast cancer. Although there is not yet a cure, here are nine essential facts about breast cancer.
There Are Different Types
There are different types of breast cancer based on those that develop into cancer cells.
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer– A rare type that blocks the lymph nodes causing the breast to become swollen and red.
- Paget’s Disease of the Breast- Another rare form that affects the skin of and around the nipples
- Lobular Carcinoma– Occurs in the lobules and is found both breasts versus the other types
- Ductal Carcinoma– The most comment type that affects the ducts of the breast
Exercise and Breast Cancer
Regular exercise may help reduce the risk of developing Breast Cancer. In addition, a recent study concluded that regular exercise helps reduce the reoccurrence and risk of death from breast cancer. Specifically, women who met the minimum guidelines of exercise before and after diagnosis had a 55% reduced risk of cancer returning and a 68% reduced risk of death from all causes.
Men and Breast Cancer
Men should not forget that they too can get breast cancer. According to the CDC, 1 in 100 breast cancer diagnoses are men. The symptoms in men are similar to those of women and mostly happen between ages 60 to 70.
Lesser Known Symptoms
Although it is widely known that checking for lumps in the breast is a sign of cancer, there are other ways breast cancer can manifest. Here are some symptoms to look out for.
- Nipple Discharge– Persistant bloody or pink discharge on one side
- Changing of The Skin– Dimpling like an organge, color changes, or thickening
- Changing of The Nipples– crusting, flaking, redness or any abnormal changes in texture can indicate Paget’s breast cancer or other non-cancerous conditions.
- Inverted Nipples
- Reddness or Hot Spots
- Changes in Breast Shape
Although these are just a few abnormal signs of breast cancer, they are not exclusive to breast cancer. One key takeaway is to know your breast so you can identify changes as they arise. As a rule of thumb always seek professional guidance with any abnormal changes in your body.
The Role of Anti-perspirants
There is speculation of aluminum-based deodorants and breast cancer. According to a study, the aluminum in certain deodorants may have an estrogen-like effect when absorbed by the body. Although this is not completely confirmed, others suggest that the parabens in the deodorant may be the cause. Overall, there is little scientific evidence linking deodorant use and breast cancer risk.
The survival rate of breast cancer is very high. According to the National Cancer Institute, depending on the time of diagnosis and aggressiveness of the disease, the 5-year rate of survival is 90.3%. In addition, the 5-year survival rate of localized breast cancer(cancer that remains in one area) is an impressive 99%. Although most cancers are considered localized, the regional survival 5-year survival rate is 85.8%, and distant 29%.
According to breastcancer.org, white women are more likely to develop breast cancer, but African American women are more likely to develop more aggressive forms and die from breast cancer. This was noted in my health disparities post on African Americans. The main reason for the higher death rates are the lack of resources, distrust in the medical professionals, and late diagnosis compared to their white counterparts.
In addition, triple-negative breast cancer is more common in African American women. This is a more aggressive form of cancer. Although studies are looking to find new treatments, African American women are not well represented.
Most Breast Lumps Are Not Cancer
If you give yourself a self-exam and find a lump, it’s important to stay calm. Instead of stressing first contact your doctor, and verify the underlying cause. There are several causes of lumps in the breast that are not cancerous.
All of these masses are easily treated and diagnosed by a medical professional.
Genetics Plays a Small Role
The genetic predisposition of breast cancer is only found in 5%- 10% of breast cancer diagnoses. Mutations on the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are attributed to genetically related breast cancer for women whose family members had previously been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. Although a mutation is a risk factor, it does not mean you will get breast cancer and vice versa.