Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women and will affect about 1 out of every 8 woman in their lifetime. This article is a good overview for understanding and preparing for treatment.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and men. It can develop in one or both breasts. The first sign is often a change in size, shape, or color of part of one or both breasts. Other symptoms can be nipple discharge, pain in the chest wall, arm, shoulder, or under the armpit.
Early Signs and Symptoms
According to the Breast Cancer Foundation, symptoms can vary and may include: a lump in the breast a change in size or shape of the breast inverted nipple: when the nipple turns inward instead of sticking out discharge from one or both nipples that looks like pus, blood, or clear fluid; not normal; and may be associated with pain radiation pains in armpits, neck, chest wall, ribs, groin, legs
Types of Breast Cancer
There are many types of breast cancer. Some types are more common than others. Based on the type of the cancer, you can get treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Breast cancers are common and mostly seen in women. Women of all races and of any age can get it. It is the second most common type of cancer for women after lung cancer.
Treatment for Breast Cancer
The two most common treatment options are tamoxifen and mastectomy. Tamoxifen is a medication that blocks estrogen production, which can help prevent the spread of the cancer to other areas of the body. Mastectomy removes all or part of the breasts where cancer cells might be found.
The CDC and the FDA recommend mammograms for women starting at age 40. Women who are at a higher risk should start earlier, talk to your doctor about what is best for you. There are also lifestyle changes that can increase or decrease your risk of breast cancer: alcohol consumption, weight gain, hormone therapy, diet (avoiding too many animal fats), exercise (regular activity reduces postmenopausal cancer risk) and smoking (smoking increases risk by 2 to 5 times).
There is no easy cure for breast cancer. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help prevent or slow down the disease. You should be mammogramed annually and perform breast self-exams. If you find something unusual, always get it checked out by a doctor.
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