Breast cancer is a serious health concern that affects numerous women worldwide.
According to Breast Cancer Now nearly 5,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease. Even though 80% of breast cancer cases occur in women over the age of 50, women of all ages are at risk of developing it, that’s why preventive measures like screening tests are so necessary.
The fast-paced lifestyle and pace of contemporary women push medical checkups to the bottom of the priority list. In this blog post, we will share the basics and primary tools to start preventing breast cancer. This includes recognising risk factors, symptoms, screening tests available and some practices to incorporate into daily routines.
Breast Cancer: what are the symptoms and signs?
In countries like the UK, the number of women who do not check their breasts is over 80%. Some of these women claim to not know precisely how to self-exam or don’t know what to look for.
To recognize early signs of breast cancer, you should know the most common symptom is a lump or mass in the breast, which may or may not be painful. Breast Cancer Now lists other symptoms. These include:
- Changes in the size and shape of the breast or nipple
- Changes in skin texture
- Breasts looking red or inflamed
- Nipple discharge
- Rash, crusting or abnormalities on the nipple
Knowing your breasts and checking them regularly for anything new or different is essential. An early diagnosis will increase the chances of successful treatment. If you notice any of these changes, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Breast Cancer: what are the risk factors?
There are several factors that increase the risk for developing breast cancer. Our lifestyle, genes, and surrounding environment all contribute to this – there’s no single cause.
Small healthy changes including drinking less alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping physically active can lower your risk, however, there are some other factors outside our control, for example:
- Gender: men can also get breast cancer, but 99% of all new cases occur in women.
- Age: 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50, however, according to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer incidence and death rates increase with age until the seventh decade. In addition, when it comes to cancers in women under 45 years of age, it is more likely to be detected at a more advanced stage, more aggressive and more difficult to treat.
- Family history: women with a family history of breast cancer, especially close relatives like a mother or sister, have an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Breast health problems history: You have had breast cancer or certain other diseases like lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
- Breast density: having dense breasts puts you at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. To find out whether your breasts have low or high density, you should get a mammogram.
What can you do to prevent Breast Cancer?
Breast Cancer Now reports that almost 9 out of 10 women survive breast cancer for at least five years. In fact, over the past 40 years, breast cancer survival rates have doubled due to improved treatment, early detection, and faster diagnosis.
Preventing breast cancer is possible. Understanding your cancer risk, being proactive with your health and getting tested are ways to stay ahead of the disease. If you don’t yet know where to start or what tests can help you get an early diagnosis, here are the key preventive measures.
Breast cancer screenings
Breast cancer screenings are medical tests that can help find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and has a better chance of survival. Different types of tests can be used for breast cancer screening, but the most common are mammograms and ultrasounds.
- Mammogram: it is an X-ray that examines breast tissue to detect suspicious areas. This test involves the breast being exposed to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce an image of the breast.
Mammograms are powerful diagnostic tools. National Breast Cancer Foundation explains they are often able to detect a lump before it can be felt.
Women aged 40 and older should have annual mammograms. Women younger than 40 who have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their doctor how often they should have mammograms. However, a mammogram once a year is a great start.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a testing procedure that uses sound waves to make images of the inside of the breast on a computer. The American Cancer Society indicates that this is not typically used for routine breast cancer screening, but it can be useful for detecting lumps or fluid-filled cysts that may be difficult to see on mammograms.
In addition to the above, another way of preventing breast cancer is practising the self-exam. Performing monthly breast self-exams at home enables you to become familiar with your breast tissue, facilitating the identification of any changes or concerns.
Breast cancer prevention is within our reach, even amidst our busy lifestyles. By understanding the risk factors, recognizing symptoms, incorporating breast health practices into our daily routines and utilizing screening tests like mammograms, we can take proactive steps towards early detection and treatment.
Finding the right medical partner to guide you through all the steps of the way is also crucial. At Da Vinci Health provide you with a full breast cancer screening program run by a team of specialists using the most reliable state-of-the-art technologies. We also perform AI-Assisted analysis of all mammograms to improve diagnostic accuracy, offered at no extra cost to our patients.
Schedule an appointment and our medical staff will select the best test or combination to obtain the most accurate analysis based on your type of breast, age and needs. Check out consultant’s timetable, find a doctor and book your next mammogram.
Every minute counts when it comes to prevent breast cancer. Take action starting now! We’ll be ready to take care of you.