Most benign breast lumps are areas of breast cell changes, causing lumpiness that is more obvious just before a period, particularly in women over 35 or cysts – sacs of fluid in the breast tissue, which are quite common or Fibroadenoma – a collection of fibrous glandular tissue (these are more common in younger women). Women should be looking out for the following: A lump or thickening in an area of the breast or a change in the size or shape of a breast or dimpling of the skin or a change in the shape of your nipple or a rash on a nipple or surrounding area or a swelling or lump in your armpit. Like breast lumps, these signs don't necessarily mean cancer. It is most likely to be a benign condition that can easily be treated and seeing the doctor will put your mind at rest. But if it does turn out to be a cancer you give yourself the best chance of successful treatment by going to the doctor early on.
If you find a lump, See your doctor straight away. If you notice anything unusual about your breast, have it examined. Even though most breast lumps are benign, they need to be checked to rule out cancer. Your doctor will examine you and if necessary will send you to a specialist breast clinic for further checks. At the clinic, they will be able to see on your mammogram or ultrasound if the lump is a fluid filled cyst or a solid lump. If your lump is a cancer, the earlier you have breast cancer treatment, the better your chance of cure
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor.
Note that even if you have one or more of the risk factors below, it does not mean that you will definitely get breast cancer. But, the risk factors should guide you to get regular check ups. The risk factors are:
Like most cancers, the risk of developing breast cancer increases as women get older. As we get older the cells in our body have had more chance to make mistakes when they were dividing. So it is important to have mammograms as part of the national breast screening program as soon as you are old enough.
Having a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer approximately doubles the risk of breast cancer. But more than 8 out of 10 women who have a close relative with breast cancer will never develop it. If several members of your family have had particular types of cancer or if a relative was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, your risk of developing breast cancer may be increased further.
Breast cancer genes
If you have a very strong family history, there may be a faulty gene in your family that increases your risk of breast cancer. There are probably several gene faults that can increase breast cancer risk. We can test for 2 of them, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Your risk of getting breast cancer by the age of 70 if you have either of these breast cancer gene faults is between 45 to 65%.
Sex hormones and other hormones
The female sex hormone, oestrogen, and the male hormone, testosterone, can affect the development of breast cancer. Women tend to have small amounts of the male hormone testosterone in their bodies. Studies generally show that after their menopause women with higher levels of oestrogen and testosterone in their blood have a 2 to 3 times higher risk of breast cancer than women with the lowest levels of these hormones. Before the menopause, levels of oestrogen vary during the menstrual cycle and studies have not shown clearly that these hormones affect the risk of breast cancer in this group of women. Many of the major risk factors for breast cancer can be explained through their effect on hormone levels.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Many women in the UK take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce menopausal symptoms. There are 2 main types of HRT – combined HRT (oestrogen and progesterone) and oestrogen only HRT. In 2003, researchers from Cancer Research UK looked at HRT and the risk of breast cancer in more than a million women. They showed clearly that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer while women take it and for up to 5 years afterwards
The Contraceptive Pill
The combined pill contains oestrogen. Oestrogen can stimulate breast cancer cells to grow. In theory, taking extra oestrogen could trigger a breast cancer to develop. Several large studies have looked at whether the pill can increase the risk of breast cancer. The overall picture seems to be that there is a small increase in risk while you are taking it. But the increase in risk goes back to normal 10 years after you've stopped taking it. Balanced against this, the pill also seems to reduce the risk of some other cancers, such as ovarian and womb cancers.
Not having children or having them later in life
Women who have children have a slightly lower risk of breast cancer than women who don't have children. And the risk reduces further the more children you have. Your age when you have your first child also has an effect. The younger you are when you have your first child, the lower your risk.
When you start and stop having periods
Starting your periods (menarche) at an early age has been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. And if you have a late menopause this increases your breast cancer risk.
Statistical surveys in America and England have shown that white women have a higher risk of breast cancer than women from other ethnic groups. This is at least partly due to lifestyle factors.
Other reasons could be 1. your weight and height 2. chest x-rays exposure 3. Diabetes 4. Certain Medicines. 5. A previous breats cancer 6. Having dense breast tissue and 7. Alcoholism and smoking
To summarize, be aware of yourself and go for screening! Please look up Cancer Research or WebMD or hundreds of other websites for more detail.