One in every eight women has breast cancer and it is estimated that every year over 200,000 women are diagnosed. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women worldwide. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and during this time, we strive to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment of this disease.
Dermatology and Skin Health would also like to take time this month to address women’s health cancer screenings and offer tips on how to keep safe this season.
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells within the breast grow out of control and become cancerous. There are different kinds of breast cancer depending on which cells within the breast turn cancerous. Breast cancer can begin in one part of the breast and spread to other parts or outside of the breast through blood and lymph vessels.
It is important to note that though uncommon, breast cancer can develop in men as well.
What are the risk factors?
Your risk for breast cancer is a result of a combination of factors including age, family history of breast cancer, or genetic mutations in certain genes that may increase your risk of developing cancer.
While many of these factors are genetic, there are factors under your control that can lower your risk of breast cancer. These factors include:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Lowering your alcohol consumption
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Those who take hormonal birth control or undergo hormone therapy may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
The symptoms of breast cancer can vary depending on the type. It is also important to note that not all patients diagnosed with breast cancer will have the same symptoms. Common symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- A lump felt in the breast or underarm
- Any change in the size or shape of the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
- Irritation or dimpling on the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Redness or flaky skin
- Thickening or swelling of the breast
Conducting self-examinations daily of your breasts will help you to become familiar with how your breasts look and feel. This will allow you to notice any changes that may be of concern. If you note any of the symptoms above, please schedule an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation.