Monthly breast self-examination is so important since breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women.
How common is breast cancer?
One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2022, it is estimated that in the US, there will be more than 280,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and more than 40,000 deaths related to breast cancer.
Breast cancer can affect any person. It is difficult to predict who gets it and who does not. Check this video out to find all details about breast cancer with stories from real people on youtube.
Is Breast Cancer Incidence Increasing?
In the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of breast cancer incidence rose, mostly due to the widespread implementation of screening mammography. Between 1999 and 2004, we saw a decline in breast cancer incidence, likely due to the reduced use of postmenopausal hormone therapy. Since the mid-2000s, breast cancer incidence has increased. This is felt to be due to a higher incidence of obesity and a decline in the number of births among women.
However, between 1989 to 2019, the number of deaths from breast cancer has decreased by almost 42% and since then decreases about 1% per year since then. This is primarily due to Early Detection and improved treatments.
What are my risk factors?
- Being a woman! Although men can develop breast cancer as well, it is about 100 times more common in women.
- Age greater than 55– The older a person gets, the higher the risk of developing breast cancer. The median age of diagnosis is around 63. Rates begin to increase after 40 and are highest in women over 70.
- Family History– Women with a family history of breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate cancer have an increased risk of breast cancer. The increased risk can be due to genetic factors which we now know to look for based on family history.
- Diet and exercise– Women who adopt a healthier lifestyle, with regular exercise, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables have a reduced risk of breast cancer. Obesity after menopause also increases the risk of breast cancer
- Dense Breast tissue– This is a measure of the area of the breast and connective tissue to the area of fat seen on a mammogram. Women with dense breasts are 4-5 times more likely to develop breast cancer
- Reproductive cycle– The use of birth control pills increases breast cancer risk. The use of postmenopausal hormone therapy increases breast cancer risk. In general- pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are protective factors
- Alcohol– Women who have 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day have about a 20% higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Race and Ethnicity– Caucasian and African American women have the highest incidence of breast cancer. Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian women have a lower incidence.
What are the symptoms and signs of Breast Cancer?
- A lump in the breast
- Change in size of the breast
- Thickening of breast or underarm
- Nipple retraction
- Nipple discharge
Why is early detection important?
Early detection saves lives !! Screening measures can detect breast cancer in its early stages before the symptoms or before cancer cells have spread outside the breast. Women are advised to discuss with their physicians about their risk and appropriate screening interventions.
What are the Screening Guidelines – For Women with average risk?
Women should check their breasts monthly and report any changes to their physicians. Although both men and women are at risk for breast cancer, the screening recommendations are for women. This may be due to rarity of the cancer in men. The American Cancer Society recommends age-based screening for breast cancer.
- Women in their 20s and 30s– Have a clinical breast exam every 3 years.
- The 30s– Discuss breast cancer risk with a physician for appropriate screening options including mammogram and MRI screenings.
- Age 40 and older– Discuss risk factors with a physician, annual mammogram, annual clinical breast exam, and MRI screening where appropriate.
- Women 50 and older– After discussion with a physician, can have clinical breast exam annually, mammography every 1-2 years.
- Womenhigh risk– All women should have a discussion with their physician to understand their risks. Women with higher risks may need to start screening earlier and may need to take additional preventive measures such as medications and /or surgery.
What can I do for Breast Cancer Prevention?
- Regular Exercise
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Alcohol moderation
- Genetic testing when appropriate
- Planning appropriate screening.
Can men develop breast cancer?
- Men can get breast cancer too!
- Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men.
- Men are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer than women.
- Men can have benign breast conditions very commonly called Gynecomastia or enlargement of breasts- Don’t delay seeing a health provider if there is a change in breast or chest wall area.
- High incidence of genetic factors like BRCA mutations in men with breast cancer.
Can I get a screening mammogram during the Covid 19 pandemic?
During the pandemic, many routine breast cancer screening examinations were deferred, resulting in a large number of delays in diagnoses and later stages at presentation. The CDC encourages health care providers to continue to offer routine screening. It is safe to get cancer screening when safety precautions are in place. Discuss with your health care provider if it is safe for you to defer breast cancer screening.
Can I get a mammogram if I recently had the covid vaccine?
Temporary enlargement of lymph nodes under the arm has been reported after administration of covid 19 vaccines. This can sometimes interfere with the interpretation of mammograms and sometimes result in false positives and unnecessary additional testing.
If possible and when it does not delay care, the Society of Breast Imaging has recommended waiting about 4 weeks after the completion of the mRNA covid 19 vaccine series.
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