October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is a concerning disease that affects the lives of numerous individuals annually in the United States. Since October is dedicated as the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there’s no better time than the present to learn more about the risk factors of this life-altering condition and the importance of routine breast cancer screenings.

Similar to all cancer types, breast cancer occurs when aggregates of cells start to divide erratically and excessively, rather than going through their typical biological processes and life cycles. Much of the time, breast cancer begins in the milk-yielding structures (lobules) when DNA in these cells starts to mutate. When altered cells develop at a faster rate than the body can eliminate them, the growing mass of cells becomes a tumor.

Tumors in the breast can form in many parts of glandular tissue, as well as in the fat (adipose) tissue encompassing and protecting the milk-producing structures of the breast. In rare cases, breast cancers can even metastasize to other areas of the body, including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Under such circumstances, the specialists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas in Dallas, TX collaborate closely with other health care experts and specialists to address metastatic concerns affecting GI tissues. Getting a breast cancer diagnosis as early as possible is essential to safeguarding your general health.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer impacting women, and one out of every eight women will develop the disease during their lives. Medical experts estimate that over 280,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, and nearly 50,000 will be diagnosed with noninvasive carcinoma in situ breast cancer.

The majority of women diagnosed with cancer of the breast are over the age of 55, but breast cancer is still one of the top causes of mortality among women aged 35 – 55. Non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic African American women have the highest risk for breast cancer, while African American women and Latina women are most likely to die as a result of the disease.

Genetic factors also present an increased chance of developing the disease. Women with family members who have had breast cancer are more are at an elevated risk to have the disease during their lives. Even though being female, having hereditary factors, and being of older age cannot be changed, there are several things you can do to help reduce the risk of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Other breast cancer risk factors are:

  • Alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy over the age of 30
  • Taking hormones, such as chemical contraceptives
  • Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Inadequate amounts of vitamin D
  • Poor diet
  • Radiation therapy earlier than age 30
  • Breastfeeding for less than a year

Improving your lifestyle and attending routine exams can help lessen your chance of breast cancer, particularly if any of the factors listed above apply to your life.

Are there different types of breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast can be diagnosed as invasive, also called malignant, or noninvasive carcinoma in situ. Noninvasive cancers are clumps of cells that grow more or less in one location, splitting atypically but not mutating beyond their core functions in further ways. Noninvasive cancers can commonly be removed through surgical means and carry a lower probability of coming back.

Malignant tumors are of greater concern since they disseminate branches of cells into the surrounding tissues, sometimes even detaching pieces of themselves and spreading to other regions throughout the body. They may additionally produce and release noxious hormones and further substances that unfavorably impact an individual's health.

The various classifications of breast cancer are as follows:

Lobular carcinoma: This type of breast cancer begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules). When this kind of carcinoma is in situ, it is the least serious form of breast tumor since it is not likely to spread. Even still, it should be addressed as recommended by a physician since it could signal the likelihood of additional tumors developing over time. In instances where lobular carcinomas are invasive, they are generally more concerning and particularly difficult to diagnose.

Paget disease of the nipple: This is a type of breast cancer that originates in the nipple or the areola.

Angiosarcoma: This rare type of carcinoma starts in blood vessels, the skin, or lymph vessels.

Phyllodes tumors: These non-malignant tumors begin in connective tissue structures.

Ductal carcinoma: This type of cancer begins in milk ducts. It can be invasive, meaning it spreads out of the milk duct and into other regions of the breast. It can also be in situ, which means it stays in the milk ducts. If diagnosed early enough, in situ cancers are commonly simple to treat; however, they might become malignant if they are not treated. Unfortunately, approximately 80% of breast cancers are diagnosed as invasive ductal carcinomas.

The importance of routine breast cancer screenings

The optimal way to prevent breast cancer, in addition to following a healthy, active life, is to undergo screenings for breast cancer regularly. These screenings commonly include a clinical examination of the breast tissue followed by a mammogram, or radiographic imaging carried out to discover areas of dense tissue within the breast. Regular breast exams are essential for diagnosing breast tumors early and allowing for the best possible health outcomes. You can also perform a breast self-exam and should do so routinely. A physician can discuss how to perform this properly.

Schedule your breast cancer screening procedure

The specialists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas are pleased to commemorate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and hope to motivate individuals in Dallas, TX to help safeguard their overall health by booking routine examinations for breast cancer. Receiving routine breast cancer screenings from a qualified medical practitioner can help detect the condition as early as possible and offers the best chance of protecting your health and wellness.