Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer found in women. Roughly 1 in 37 women die from this disease. However, breast cancer is quite well treatable. The average 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90%, but if the cancer is located in the breast only (most likely at an early stage), the survival rate is as high as 99%. This is why it is so important to look out for early symptoms of breast cancer.
Types of breast cancer
There are two main types of breast cancer:
- ductal carcinoma, which starts in the milk ducts and is the most common form of breast cancer
- lobular carcinoma, which starts in the lobules.
Breast cancer can be either:
- invasive, meaning that it starts attacking other parts of the body
- non-invasive, meaning that it does not spread to other tissues
Men can actually get breast cancer too, however it is much less common.
Breast cancer symptoms
It is recommended for women to do monthly self-examinations of their breasts in order to discover any early symptoms of breast cancer. It is best to do this a few days after the period ends, when the breasts are least swollen.
Common breast cancer symptoms include:
- feeling a thick area
- a dimple
- a hard bump or lump
- a growing vein
- nipple crust or rash
- a sunken nipple
- looking red or feeling hot
- a new shape or size developing
- unexpected fluid
- orange peel-like skin
- skin sores
Sometimes, you may also feelin pain in the breast, or swelling and pain in the armpit area. Other than self-exams, women in their 20s and 30s should have their breasts examined clinically every three years, while women in their 40s and older should have their breasts examined every year.
Breast cancer risk factors
There are many risk factors when it comes to breast cancer, so if any of these apply to you, you should make sure you get examined regularly. The biggest breast cancer risk factor is most probably age. In your 30s, the chance of you getting breast cancer is 1 in 233, while in your 70s, it is 1 in 8. The amount of estrogen you’ve been exposed to is also an important factor to note. For example, if you had gotten your period early and/or never had kids, your risk goes up. Genetics come into play as well – if you have a family member who suffered from breast cancer, your risk increases too.
Remember – breast cancer is fairly easy to treat! The earlier you get diagnosed, the higher your chances of beating breast cancer! Examine your breasts regularly and look out for early symptoms of breast cancer!
Author: Julia Kubiak