Breast cancer: the worrying phenomenon

Breast cancer awareness month happens every year during October. It is an essential way to raise attention to one of the most common kinds of cancers diagnosed in women. This also means bringing awareness towards early detection, education on the subject and treatment. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research a study from 2018, Belgium, The Netherlands and even France appear on the Top 5 of countries with higher rates of breast cancer.

Both women and men can be affected by this type of cancer, even if it is much more common in women. Statistics state that 42,260 deaths will occur in 2019 due to this specific kind of cancer, 41,760 of which will be women.

Breast cancer can be caused by inherited genes, but these cases typically represent a small percentage. Other factors like age (+50 years old), early menstruation or late menopause, excessive alcohol consumption, a previous breast cancer, being overweight, being exposed to radiation and more can constitute a risk of developing breast cancer.

Classic symptoms vary frequently and can go from:

Lumps and considerable swelling in armpits, breasts and collarbones

Continuous pain in the breasts, during an extended period

Visible alterations in breasts and nipples

Liquid coming from the nipples

Considerable modification on the texture or even on the colour of the skin around the breasts area

It is crucial to be attentive and perform self-exams and medical examinations (mammography and clinical breast exam) regularly, since an early detection of the disease often is decisive.

Today, there are innovative ways to detect the risk of developing breast cancer, even before you start experiencing any specific type of typical symptoms. There are surveys – based on your genetic and health in general – you can undertake to properly understand the potential risk you have of developing it. Cancer genetic counsellors can also do genetic tests that help you properly understand the inherited cancer risk that you may be subjected to.

Here are some preventive behaviours people can adopt to prevent cancer:

Adopt a wealthy lifestyle, and this includes doing exercise, not drinking and maintaining an adequate healthy diet.

Undertake preventive surgery to lower the considerable risk that comes with inherited genetic mutations

Start taking drugs that meaningfully decrease the chances of suffering from the disease if you are part of the risk group

Breast cancer has various stages (from 0 to IV), and the possible chances of surviving naturally depend on which stage it is discovered, as well as other key factors. But if it is accurately detected on stage I the survival rate during the next 5 years is 99%.

So, if you notice any of these unusual changes or you want to know if you are part of a group risk, do not hesitate to take the right precautions.

References:

Breast Cancer, Cancer.Net

Breast cancer, World Health Organization

What signs of breast cancer are there other than a lump?, August 2018, Medical News Today 

Breast cancer statistics, 2018, World Cancer Research Fund

Latest global cancer data: Cancer burden rises to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million cancer deaths in 2018, September 2018, World Health Organization