Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women from developed countries. Unfortunately, as many as one in every seven women will get breast cancer at some time in her life. Although this is overwhelmingly a female disease, about 1% of cases do occur in men.
Amongst women, breast cancer becomes more common as age increases with more than 80% of cases occurring in women over 50 years. Taking the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy only slightly adds to your risk of breast cancer, but obesity and heavy drinking are significant and dangerous contributors. Family history is also important: having close relatives (mother and/or sister) with breast cancer doubles or triples your risk of getting the disease, compared to women with no cases in the family.
Fortunately, during the last 30 years, great progress has been made in early diagnosis and treatment of the disease, as well as in reducing breast cancer deaths. In the past, a diagnosis of breast cancer usually meant radical surgery. Today, radical mastectomies are rarely performed, instead, there are more and better treatment options, and many women are candidates for breast-sparing operations.
Most of us know someone with breast cancer and many of us are concerned with whether we will be affected during our lifetime. What can we do to lessen our risk?
Early detection is vitally important. We recommend regular (every 1-2 years) screening mammograms for all women over age 40.
Reasons to visit your doctor:
- Breast lump
- Change in the size or shape of a breast
- Dimpling of the breast skin
- Changes/inversion of the nipple
- Swelling or a lump in the armpit
- Family history of breast cancer
- Just worried and need to talk………..
If you are worried about Breast Cancer, do not delay seeking advice. Schedule an appointment with one of our family doctors or gynecologists as soon as possible.
Written by Dr. Sue McGladdery, former FirstMed medical director
edited by Anna Paksy
In October, FirstMed joins the international annual campaign to increase breast cancer Awareness.
Though most people are aware of breast cancer, not all of us take the necessary steps towards detecting the disease in its early stages, and encouraging others to do the same.
During the entire month of October, FirstMed is offering a complimentary mammogram or ultrasound to go along with the Annual Gynecological Exam of all women who are over the age of 40, have a family history of breast cancer, or are directed by their doctor.
Please click here for more information and to register for your exam.