BREAST cancer starts in the tissues of the breast and the symptoms vary widely — from lumps to swelling to skin changes and many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are many risk factors. The risks that you cannot change include
- Age – the risk rises as you get older
- Genes – Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested for the BRCA1 & BRCA 2 genes.
- Personal factors – beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55
Other risks include obesity, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35.
A breast self-exam should be part of your monthly health care routine, and you should visit your doctor if you experience breast changes. If you’re over 40 or at a high risk, you should also have an annual mammogram and physical exam by a doctor. The earlier breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it.
In recent years, there’s been an explosion of life-saving treatment advances against breast cancer, which include, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
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