U.S. breast cancer statistics predict that 12 percent of women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2017, more than 250,000 new cases of this disease are expected to be diagnosed and treated. You can protect your health and prepare accordingly by learning what breast cancer is and how it is treated today.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a cancer that targets the cells in one or both of the breasts. It typically begins in either the ducts or lobules. It has the ability to spread or metastasize if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Doctors theorize that breast cancer can be caused by genetics, environmental factors, abnormal changes in the cells' DNA, and lifestyle choices like smoking. This disease primarily afflicts women. However, men can develop breast cancer as well.
When it is diagnosed early, breast cancer has a high survival rate. You can act early to protect your health by learning what symptoms accompany this illness.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Breast cancer presents itself with a variety of symptoms that include:
- a lump in or near the breast
- enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
- changes in size, color, and shape of the breast
- skin redness
- dimpling or puckering
- scaling, redness, or swelling of the breast, areola, or nipple
- pulling or change of direction of one or both nipples
- discharge of fluid from the nipple
If you experience any of these tell-tale signs of breast cancer, you should contact your primary care doctor immediately for an examination and treatment.
Treatment of Breast Cancer
Your doctor may use any number of options to treat breast cancer. Some of the most common approaches to treating this illness include:
- surgical removal of the lymph node or lump
- surgical removal of the breast and breast tissue (mastectomy)
- targeted drug therapy
- hormone therapy
The treatment that you undergo for breast cancer will depend on its location and whether or not it has metastasized.
Breast cancer can be caused by factors over which you have little to no control. However, you may reduce your risk factors for it by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and excessive drinking.