Cancer

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Breast Cancer - Women


Breast Cancer - Women


Breast cancer occurs when cells within breast tissue mutate and begin to multiply uncontrollably. This leads to the development of tumours, which have the potential to spread through other parts of the body through the lymph nodes.

Cause & Risk


The risk of breast cancer increases with age. It’s rare in women under 35, and 8 out of 10 breast cancers (80%) occur in women aged 50 or over. Women who’ve had breast cancer or other breast conditions in the past may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Exposure to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone for long, uninterrupted periods can affect your breast cancer risk. Drinking more than two units of alcohol a day over many years can damage your liver. This increases your breast cancer risk because the liver helps to control oestrogen levels. After the menopause, body fat is the main source of oestrogen. So if you’re overweight, the level of oestrogen in your body may be high, increasing your breast cancer risk. Smoking heavily over many years, especially if you started smoking at a young age, increases your risk. Only 5–10% of breast cancers are thought to be linked to an inherited breast cancer gene. Our genes store the biological information we inherit from our parents. The genes most commonly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in families are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Other genes have been identified, but they only slightly increase the risk. If you have one relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer at an older age, it’s not likely that the cancer is due to an inherited breast cancer gene.


Symptoms


Symptoms of breast cancer can include: A lump in the breast, A change in the size or shape of the breast, Dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue, A nipple that’s turned in (inverted), A rash (like eczema) on the nipple, Discharge from the nipple, A swelling or a lump in the armpit. If you have any of these symptoms, get them checked by your G.P.


Diagnosis & Treatment


For most women the main treatment for breast cancer is surgery to remove it. Other treatments are also often given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. These can include radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and biological therapy with Herceptin. Your doctor will discuss all the options available to you, and you can ask any questions that will help you decide on the best treatment for you.


Further Information


After your treatment has finished, you’ll have regular check-ups, which will include physical examinations and mammogram's. These will be every few months at first, but eventually you may only be seen once a year. Sometimes, instead of routine appointments, women are asked to contact their cancer specialist or nurse if there’s anything they’re worried about. You may also need to see your specialist or GP every few months if you are having on-going treatment with hormonal therapy, or if you have any treatment side effects that haven't gone away.


Recommended Links


Breast Cancer care website: http://bit.ly/HKPxUM


Breakthrough Breast Cancer page: http://bit.ly/18cxUTJ

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