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News Article

Breast Cancer Signs to be Aware Of

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 10/19/2020 - 17:29

Oct. 19 is the International Day Against Breast Cancer, which aims to highlight the importance of early detection of the risk factors that can lead to this disease. Early detection can increase survival rates up to 90-100 percent. However, in Mexico, breast cancer remains the primary cause of death of women over 25 years of age. This disease can also present on men but it is less common.

According to the National Institute for Women (INMUJERES), in 2017, the breast cancer mortality rate increased to 19.04 deaths for every 100,000 women over 25 years of age from 2005’s 15.6 deaths and 2010’s 16.9 deaths. As women age, their risk of dying from this type of cancer increases, from 14.8 deaths per 100,000 women aged between 40 and 49 to 29.5 for those aged between 50 and 59. The rate increases to 40.8 for those aged between 60 and 69 and finally 54.8 for those aged 70 and over.

INMUJERES promotes awareness through a guide that provides emotional support for women diagnosed with breast cancer. This document recommends a gender approach to oncologic attention, as this cancer is very hard on women’s self-esteem and care falls on other women with whom patients are close.

What is breast cancer?

It is a type of tumor that grows in the cells and structures of the glands of the breast tissue. Breast Cancer Org lists 14 types of breast cancer. However, the two most common are:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma, where cancer cells multiply outside the ducts and invade other parts of the breast tissue. These invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
  • Infiltrating lobular carcinoma, where cancer cells spread from the lobules to nearby breast tissues. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.

The CDC lists eight warning signs to look out for:

  • A new lump in the breast or armpit
  • Increased thickness or swelling of part of the breast
  • Irritation or sagging of the skin of the breast
  • Redness or peeling in the nipple or breast area
  • Sagging of the nipple or pain in that area
  • Nipple discharge, other than milk and even blood
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Pain in any part of the breast

There are numerous risks factors that influence the development of breast cancer. Some of them can be externally influenced and others cannot, according to the CDC.

Risk factors that do not change:

  • Aging increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Most cases are diagnosed on women in their 50s.
  • Women with genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have a higher risk of developing breast and ovary cancer.
  • An early start to menstruation (around 12 years old) and a late menopause manifestation (after 55 years old) exposes women to hormones for longer periods, which increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fat, which can sometimes difficult detecting tumors through a mammogram.
  • Personal or family backgrounds on breast cancer.
  • Previous radiotherapy treatments.
  • Women that consumed the drug diethylstilbestrol and her children. This drug was prescribed to women in the US around 1940 and 1971 to avoid spontaneous abortion.

External risk factors:

  • Inactive lifestyles.
  • Being overweight or having obesity after menopause.
  • Consumption of hormones or therapy for hormonal replacement, especially during menopause.
  • Some oral contraceptives.
  • Reproductive background that implied pregnancies after the age of 30, no breast feeding and never having a full-term pregnancy can increase the risk.
  • Alcohol consumption in large quantities. 

How can you celebrate the International Day Against Breast Cancer? Women can do a breast self-exam. This will help you detect any lump on your breasts or notice redness or discolorations. Going to the gynecologist for a mammography of echography is just as important.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
CDC, INMUJERES, OPS, Breast Cancer Org
Photo by:   IDACA
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst