Breast cancer occurs when there is a malignant tumor inside the breast. Each year more than 1185,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and the incidence of this disease is rising in developed countries. There are approximately 43,500 deaths from breast cancer annually, making this disease second to lung cancer as the leading cause of death by cancer among women. Ninety percent of breast cancers are detected by women themselves, often through breast self-examination (BSE). Breast cancer is life threatening and if the tumor is not found and treated early, cancer can spread to lymph nodes in the armpit and spread throughout the body.
The human breast is a gland made up of milk ducts, lobes, fatty tissue and lymphatic vessels. Cancerous tumors can arise in any part of the breast. Not all breast lumps are cancerous, but the only way to tell is by professional examination. Only lung cancer kills more women under the age 54 than breast cancer, but breast cancer is detected early, the five-year-plus survival rate is about 95%. Breast cancer most commonly strikes women. There is known cause of breast cancer, but many experts believe the female hormone estrogen plays a part. Some risk factors that have been identified for breast cancer include a family history of the disease, beginning the menstrual cycle before the age of 9, onset of menopause after age 55, having a first child after the age of 40 and having no children.
Early breast cancer is usually caught through a mammogram bef0re any symptoms are present.
Some symptoms of breast cancer include a new or unusual lump or thickening in the breast or armpit; a change in size or shape of the breast; discharge or bleeding from the nipple with no squeezing of the nipple; a change in the nipple (inverting, scaling or crusting): darkening of the nipple or other areas of the breast; and a breast lump in a man.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE CHANGES, HELP AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Controlling risk factors is the best way to prevent breast cancer. Although some real factors cannot be avoided (being female, having a family history of the disease, time of onset of menstruation and menopause), there are some actions people can take, including attaining and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a low fat diet, reducing alcohol intake and breastfeeding for more than 12 months.
It is essential that women should examine their own breast during the menstrual period.
Become familiar with the look and feel of the breast so that any changes can be detected.
The breast self-exam should follow these three steps:
1. While standing in front of a mirror, press the hands together over the head and look at the shape of the breasts. Place hands on the hips and look for any dimpling, irritation, changes in the nipples and changes in size of each breast or thickening or scaling on the breasts.
2. Raise one arm above the head and firmly explore the breast with the opposite hand using a circular motion. Work from the outer edge inward toward the nipple. Examine the nipple and armpit as well. Look for lumps that are hard and do not move. After fully examining one breast, repeat this step on other side.
3. Lie down on the back and repeat step 2. Also squeeze each nipple to check for blood or any discharge.
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