In honor of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is only fitting that we acknowledge what so many hundreds of thousands of women are going through. Breast cancer is incredibly common and is second only to skin cancer in the U.S. Still, the survival rate is high because of increased awareness. Below are some facts to enhance your understanding of breast cancer risk factors, detection, and treatment with mastectomy as well as subsequent breast reconstruction.
Facts About Breast Cancer
Here are some key facts about breast cancer:
- One in eight women will develop breast cancer.
- There are 230,000 new cases of female breast cancer diagnosed each year.
- Breast cancer can also affect men, though it is quite rare.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women after lung cancer.
- All women have about a three percent risk of death caused by breast cancer.
- There are nearly three million breast cancer survivors in the United States today.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
While risk factors predict the likelihood of developing cancer, they cannot determine whether you will develop it or not. Some high-risk women never develop breast cancer, while some low-risk women do. Nonetheless, reducing these risk factors where possible may reduce your likelihood of developing breast cancer.
- Being a woman (100 times more likely than men)
- Aging (especially after 55 years old)
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Genetic mutations such as the inherited mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
- Family history of breast cancer, particularly with first-degree relatives
- Race and ethnicity (being white or African American)
- Dense breast tissue
- Early menstruation (before 12 years old)
- Delayed pregnancy (after 30 years old)
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Being overweight or obese
- Being sedentary (regular exercise can reduce risk)
- Heavy smoking, especially long-term
- Drinking alcohol
- Exposure to radiation
Detecting Breast Cancer: Guidelines and Symptoms
The American Cancer Society recently updated the guidelines for breast cancer detection. Following these recommendations makes early detection and higher survival rates possible.
- Undergo an annual mammogram screening from age 45 onward.
- Receive screening twice yearly (or at least once yearly) from age 55 onward.
- For average-risk women of any age, no clinical breast examination is necessary.
Below are some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. If you notice any of these, talk to your doctor so that he or she can determine the cause.
- New lumps or masses, particularly hard masses with irregular edges
- Abnormal swelling that is not associated with ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, or nursing
- Breast or nipple pain unassociated with ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, or nursing
- Nipple retraction or ulceration
- Skin irritation, dimpling, pitting, roughness, redness, or thickening
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swelling in the armpit
- Noticeable changes in breast size, texture, contour, or temperature
Treatment With Mastectomy and Subsequent Breast Reconstruction
One effective form of treatment for breast cancer is a mastectomy, in which the breast tissue is entirely removed to destroy the cancer cells. Removal of one or both breasts may be necessary. While this treatment can effectively eliminate cancer, it may leave a woman feeling robbed of her femininity. After a mastectomy, Dr. Rey can perform breast reconstruction surgery to restore your breasts and feminine figure.
Survivors of breast cancer who have had a mastectomy to fully abolish the cancerous cells can receive breast reconstruction with reconstructive plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Rey. For more information on how he could help you, schedule your personal consultation by calling (310) 205-3107 or filling out our online contact form.