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Breast Cancer

The second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women is breast cancer, second only to skin cancer. About 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Women in the U.S. have the second highest death rate for breast cancer, with lung cancer being the most prevalent cause of cancer death.

Risk Factors:

  • Gender – females are more at risk for developing breast cancer
  • Age (50 and above)
  • Menstruation beginning at an early age
  • Family history of breast cancerb
  • Changes in specific genesc
  • Being of Caucasian ethnicity
  • Medical history of estrogen use
  • Hardening of breasts
  • Alcohol overuse
  • Age at first born child

Scientists and researchers cannot definitively find any cause that is directly linked to breast cancer, however, there are known risk factors that are used to screen patients. These risk factors alone do not completely include or exclude a patient. Studies have been performed that show that those who develop breast cancer did not have any risk factors commonly associated with breast cancer.

Breast cancer may or may not exhibit any symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer begins to grow, the patient can see symptoms that may be possible signs of breast cancer.

  • Symptoms/Signs of Breast Cancer:
  • Lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • Change in size or shape of breast
  • Dimple in the skin of the breast (may also change to orange color)
  • Nipple that turns inward into the breast
  • Fluid discharge, other than milk, coming from the breast
  • Red or swelling on the skin of the breast, nipple, or areola

Prevention is key and having yearly mammograms or breast exams are of the up-most importance in finding breast cancer early and in a very treatable phase. Women are recommended to start having mammograms as early as age 40 every 1 to 2 years. Those under the age of 40 are recommended to have clinical breast examinations (with the aid of a physician) or self-examinations every 1 to 3 years. Those with an increased risk, due to family history or otherwise, are recommended to start having mammograms at an earlier age.


Slightly higher risk if menstruation started before age 12. A woman’s risk increases if a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) has been diagnosed with breast cancer. (About 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.). Regarding the risk factor of specific genes, these genes can carry mutated information from either mother/father or both. By inheriting these mutated genes, a woman is up to 80% likely to develop breast cancer.
Slightly higher risk if woman has first child after the age of 29 versus those who gave birth before turning 29 years





Breast Cancer. Lexicomp.com. Sept. 2011. Web. 8 July 2012.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors. UCsFHealth.org. University of California San Francisco. Web. 12 July 2012.

General Information About Breast Cancer. National Cancer Institute. 21 June 2012. Web. 2 July 2012.

The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam. Breastcancer.org. 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.

U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. Breastcancer.org. 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.