Jun 10, 2014
Breast Cancer – Some things you should know.
The incidence: One in every eight women will develop breast cancer at some stage throughout their lives. It is the most common form of cancer to affect women and it is the 2nd leading cause of death in women globally.
Some good news:
• The majority of lumps felt in breast tissue are NOT cancerous. This does not mean that any breast lump can be ignored. All breast lumps need to be seen quickly by a healthcare professional.
• The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive it and lead full and healthy lives.
• The death rate form breast cancer is declining slightly. This may be due to better awareness, earlier detection and improved therapies.
Some causes of breast cancer:
• Gender. Men can develop breast cancer but male breast cancer accounts for only about 1% of all breast cancers.
• Age. The older a woman becomes the greater are her chances of developing a cancerous breast tumour. The flip side of this though is that the older a woman is when she develops breast cancer then the slower will the progress of that malignancy be and the better the survival rate.
• Family history. Certain breast cancers have a strong familial tendency. Indeed, so strong can this be that it is becoming increasingly common for some women, with a very strong family history of certain types of breast cancer, to opt for elective bilateral mastectomy as a preemptive precaution.
• Lifestyle. Certain lifestyles can lead to a slight increased risk of developing breast cancer. These would include cigarette smoking, obesity and poor dietary habits. However, if we were to insist on these as strong causative factors in breast cancer then one would need to show that breast cancer is commoner among the poor that the better off. Repeated studies have shown this not to be the case.
• HRT. The Women’s Health Initiative Study in 2002 showed an excess rate of breast cancer among women taking HRT of 8 cases per 100,000 women. In the view of this writer this is a very small increase indeed and that the results of this study should not be over reacted to.
Breast Screening – Mammography.
Today, most developed countries offer a free breast screening service, by way of mammography or soft tissue x-ray from units that travel around the country. Women between the ages of 50 and 64 are encouraged to go along to these units every 2 years to have their Breast Check. Whereas in principle this may seem like a very good idea, a recent published study in the BMJ showed that there was no decrease in mortality among women who regularly underwent Breast Check as distinct from those that did not
If you are worried about any aspect of breast cancer and would like to talk to us in confidence then please contact us now. We are here to help and support you.