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Breast cancer: Risk factors and Treatments

Breast cancer: Risk factors and Treatments

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* Determining Breast Cancer Treatment Options

The stage of your breast cancer, its level of invasion, and the size of the tumor are crucial factors in deciding your treatment plan.

First, your doctor will assess the size, stage, and grade of your cancer. The grade indicates how likely the cancer is to grow and spread. After this evaluation, you can discuss your treatment options.

 

Common Treatments for Breast Cancer

Surgery is the most frequent treatment for breast cancer, often followed by additional therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, or hormone therapy.

Types of Surgery:

  1. Lumpectomy: This surgery removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue, preserving most of the breast.
  2. Mastectomy: This procedure involves removing the entire breast. In a double mastectomy, both breasts are removed.
  3. Sentinel Node Biopsy: This surgery involves removing a few lymph nodes that drain from the tumor. If these nodes are cancer-free, further lymph node removal may not be necessary.
  4. Axillary Lymph Node Dissection: If cancer cells are found in the sentinel nodes, additional lymph nodes may be removed.
  5. Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy: Some choose to have their healthy breast removed to lower the risk of future breast cancer, even if cancer is present in only one breast.

 

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams to target and kill cancer cells. The most common method is external beam radiation, which uses a machine outside the body. Brachytherapy, an advanced technique, involves placing radioactive seeds or pellets inside the body near the tumor site to destroy cancer cells from within.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy involves using drugs to destroy cancer cells. It can be administered alone or in conjunction with other treatments, especially surgery. Chemotherapy may be given after surgery (adjuvant therapy) or before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) to shrink the tumor. This treatment often comes with significant side effects, so discussing these with your doctor is important.

Hormone Therapy:

If your breast cancer is hormone-sensitive, hormone therapy may be recommended. Estrogen and progesterone can promote the growth of breast cancer tumors. Hormone therapy works by blocking the production of these hormones or their receptors on cancer cells, which can help slow or stop the cancer’s growth.

 

* Risk factors for breast cancer:

Numerous factors can increase your risk of developing breast cancer, although having any of these factors does not guarantee the disease will develop. Some risk factors, such as family history, are out of control, while others, such as smoking, can be modified.

Risk factors include:

  1. Age: The likelihood of developing breast cancer escalates with age, with most cases occurring in women over 55 years old.
  2. Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol use disorder amplifies the risk.
  3. Dense Breast Tissue: Dense breast tissue not only complicates mammogram interpretation but also elevates the risk of breast cancer.
  4. Gender Disparity: White women are reported to be 100 times more prone to breast cancer than white men, while Black women face a 70 times higher risk than Black men.
  5. Genetic Predisposition: Individuals with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are at higher risk, alongside other gene mutations.
  6. Early Menstruation: Onset of menstruation before the age of 12 increases susceptibility.
  7. Delayed Childbearing: Having the first child after 35 years of age heightens the risk.
  8. Hormone Therapy: Postmenopausal estrogen and progesterone medication usage for symptom alleviation are associated with a higher risk.
  9. Inherited Risk: A family history of breast cancer, particularly among close female relatives, raises the likelihood of developing the disease.
  10. Late Onset of Menopause: Commencing menopause after 55 years of age correlates with an increased risk.
  11. Nulliparity: Women who have never been pregnant or carried a pregnancy to full term face higher susceptibility.
  12. Previous Breast Cancer: A history of breast cancer in one breast elevates the risk of recurrence in either breast or in different regions of the affected breast.