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How to Detect and Treat Breast Cancer

Posted Dec 27 2008 10:40am

It can be very helpful to know more about how to detect breast cancer because when it is diagnosed early it can be treated more effectively.

The breast is composed of a group of glands and ducts protected by a fatty tissue. When cancer occurs the cells start to divide and multiply quickly growing in an abnormal pace. It can start within the mammary glands or ducts and spread to the lymph nodes and the fat tissue around the breast. Although, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer amongst women under 35, only 8,000 women are diagnosed before their menopause, of which 2,000 are in their 20s or 30s, out of 44,000 women diagnosed each year.

There are some factors that can increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer they are as follows:

  • Starting menstruation at a young age, before 12 years old.
  • Late menopause, after 55 years old
  • Being overweight, in particular after the menopause
  • If it is in the family history and/or inherited genes
  • Intake of HRT - only while taking it, the risks are reduced after stopping taking it
  • Regular intake of more than one unit of alcohol every day
  • Having previously had breast cancer

What symptoms you should be alert to?

  • Unexpected change in size or anatomy of the breast
  • Unexpected changes of the nipple, such as changing position or shape, becoming inverted or developing a rash or discharge
  • Skin of the breast appears puckered or dimpled
  • Continuous pain in one area either in the breast or under the armpit
  • Swelling of the armpit or in the region of the collarbone
  • A lump or thickening in the breast or armpit

How can breast cancer be diagnosed?

If you notice any of these symptoms or are concerned about any of them see your GP and he will exam you and if necessary refer you to a breast clinic for further examination and ultrasound scan or mammogram (breast X-ray). In case a lump is found, cells can be extracted with a delicate needle, or a biopsy can be performed to ascertain if the lump is malignant. The earlier it is detected the more effective the treatment can be. Learn how to do breast self-examination, as it makes easier to know your breasts and recognise any unnatural changes on them.

What are the types of treatment available?

Your specialist will decide on the type of treatment that would suit you best depending on the stage of the tumour, your age as well as your overall health condition and other factors. The treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy, either on their own or mixed within any order or combination.

J.P.Wade runs MotleyHealth.com, a health and fitness community, http://www.motleyhealth.com/

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