The ABCs of Breast Cancer
Keeping Brooklyn Healthy

The ABCs of Breast Cancer

Scientists still don’t know exactly what causes breast cancer, though they do know that certain factors put you at higher risk. Your age, genetic factors, personal health history and diet all contribute to breast cancer risk.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers found among American women. Today, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, about 232, 300 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and about 39,600 will die from it.

In Brooklyn, more women die of breast cancer than any other type of cancer. And among newly diagnosed cases in Brooklyn women, breast cancer is by far the most common.

The symptoms of breast cancer include a new lump or mass in the breast, nipple discharge or redness, breast or nipple pain, and swelling or dimpling of part of the rest.

But not every woman has symptoms, which is why regular screenings are so important. Many physicians recommend an annual mammogram starting at age 40, especially if you’re in a high-risk category.

If you’re over 20 years old, have your breast examined by your healthcare provider at least once every three years.

A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, but it isn’t necessarily a death sentence. The earlier your cancer is detected, the better the chances that it can be successfully treated and eradicated. And some breast cancers are extremely slow growing.

In fact, one breast “cancer” called LCIS, which is confined to the milk glands or lobules, isn’t even technically considered to be a cancer at all, but a marker of a possible future cancer.

Studies have shown that lifestyle changes can decrease the risk of developing breast cancer, even in high-risk women. These include:

• Controlling weight
• Not smoking
• Being physically active
Breastfeeding
• Limiting hormone therapy
• Taking fish oil regularly
• Avoiding exposure to radiation and environmental pollution

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