The lifetime risk of a woman getting breast cancer is one out of eight and millions of women are diagnosed every year, changing their lives forever. Every woman has a unique experience after being diagnosed, but each year more light is shed on not just cancer in general, but breast cancer specifically. Due to research conducted by The American Cancer Society and others, we are learning more about the disease everyday. Below are a few basic but important facts about breast cancer.
- Most women with breast cancer DO NOT have a family history.
- The causes of breast cancer are not yet fully known although a number of risk factors have been identified, including female gender, age, early age of onset of menses, having your first baby after age 30 or having no children, family history, history of radiation treatment, and taking postmenopausal hormones.
- Early detection of breast cancer has been shown to lower the chance of a woman losing her breast and dying of the disease.
- The best method of early detection to date is screening mammograms. In certain groups of women, other tests such as ultrasound and MRI may be added because mammograms can miss some cancers.
- The American Cancer Society recommends that women in their 20’s and 30’s have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular physical at least every 3 years. Beginning at age 40, women should have a mammogram every year and continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. They should also have a breast exam by a health expert every year. Breast self-exams can begin in your 20s, and are optional.
- Although early detection is beneficial, it also has a downside. Many women will need to have more tests and even a biopsy, only to find that they do not have cancer (a false positive screen). This can be extremely difficult for some women to experience. That's one reason why mammograms and other screening tests remain controversial. You have a right not to have tests, and should discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before deciding what to do.
- There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of growing and spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type and location of the breast cancer, as well as the age and health of the patient. Most women do not require removal of the whole breast (mastectomy) for treatment.
At Advanced Specialty Care, our skilled team of general surgeons, registered nurses and medical office staff care for people with a broad variety of conditions, including benign tumors and cancers of many types. Our offices are located in Danbury and Ridgefield, Connecticut.