BREAST CANCER – The Causes

Breast Cancer – the commonest cancer in women.

The number of people dying from breast cancer has been on the rise lately and that calls for a lot of awareness. Hence, I’d like to take you through the causes and of course what can be done to deal with it.

The CAUSE of breast cancer, like other cancers, is not known. However, some factors predispose to it. These include:

  1.  AGE: It is common from 30 years to 75 years.
  2. DIET: High fat intake increases the risk.
  3. ALCOHOL: increased alcohol intake increases the risk.
  4. SMOKING:   Increases the risk.
  5. FAMILY HISTORY: If the aunt, sister, mother or grandmother has or had breast cancer, then the risk of having it is increased. This risk is even more if the cancer affects (or affected) both breasts. There are some genes that if altered in the individual, also predisposes to it. These genes are mainly BRCA 1and BRCA 2.
  6. MENSES: Women who started menstruating before 12 years, are more at risk.
  7. MENOPAUSE: Those who attained menopause later than 50 years are more at risk
  8. FIRST PREGNANCY: Getting pregnant for the first time at 18 years or less seems to be protective, while having same after 25 years increases the risk, and more risk after 35 years.
  9. HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY: Women on hormone replacement therapy for many years are more at risk of breast cancer.
  10. PREVIOUS BREAST CANCER: If one breast was treated for cancer previously, there is a higher probability that the second would be involved. 
  11. PREVIOUS CANCER OT THE UTERUS AND OVARY: This increases the risk of breast cancer.  
  12. NUMBER OF CHILDREN: Breast cancer is commoner in those who haven’t had any children and less come in those with two or more children and breast- fed them.

As stated in the previous post on the causes of cancer, there is interplay of these factors. Therefore, along with lifestyle changes, it is important to speak with your doctor so that necessary steps can be taken for early detection if you have any of these risk factors.

The doctor would usually examine your breasts if you have any issues, and would send you for the necessary investigations which may include:

Breast ultrasound scan, for younger patients because they have dense breasts.

Mammogram depending on your age, positive family history of breast cancer, or a previously “positive” mammogram.

Fine needle aspiration cytology, to establish the diagnosis of breast cancer.

CT scan or MRI of the breast.

Chest X-ray to check if the cancer has spread to the chest.

Other investigations would depend on your doctor’s evaluation.

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/36243589@N04/14471106513

Do you know the relevance of or how to perform a breast self examination? Check out the next post.

Arming yourself with the right information is good. It will always be worth your while.

Got questions? Consult DoctorKK right here.

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