According to the World Health Organization , breast cancer is the most common cancer among women all over the world. If you or someone close to you has been affected by breast cancer, understanding more about it can help you cope.
In this section you can find more information about the risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options available, as well lots of handy resources to help you through the journey.
It is important for every woman to know the symptoms of breast cancer, the most common sign being the discovery of a new lump or mass on the breast. If there are any changes in your breast, be sure to get it checked immediately by a doctor. Symptoms of breast cancer include:
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasise) to other areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, although men can get it too.
Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged, but what causes the DNA damage is not yet known. While the causes are not definitive, certain genetic and environmental risk factors are linked with the disease.
Genetic factors include:
Environmental and lifestyle factors include:
All women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel, and consult immediately with a doctor if they experience any changes. When no breast changes are visible, here is a guide to follow for breast cancer screening, depending on your age:
Women with a very high risk of getting breast cancer, due to their genetic make-up, family history and environmental factors, should also be screened with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to mammograms. Only a very small percentage of women are at very high risk, so please speak with your doctor about risk factors and whether you should have any additional tests.
To diagnose breast cancer, doctors will conduct certain tests and procedures. These commonly include:
If your doctor makes a diagnosis of breast cancer, he or she will then establish the stage of your cancer. Knowing your breast cancer stage will help to inform your options for treatment.
Taking into account the type, stage and grade of your breast cancer, as well as your overall health, there are a variety of treatment options:
While there are certain risk factors for getting breast cancer that can’t be controlled, there are healthy habits that can help you to reduce your risk. These include: