Signs to help Catch Breast Cancer Sooner!

Signs of breast cancerBreast cancer is scary, but catching it early almost guarantees a five year (or greater) survival rate.  Breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women over the age of forty.  However, if diagnosed in the early stages, it actually has a 90% or greater survival rate.  That is why it is so important to improve your chances of early detection by recognizing symptoms, knowing risk factors, and maintaining healthy habits that will reduce your chance of developing breast cancer.

How to Catch Breast Cancer Sooner!

Women of all ages should administer their own breast exams on a monthly basis.  Starting this habit when you are young will help you familiarize yourself with your own normal breast tissue. This will make it easier to notice an irregularity such as a lump, if one should ever occur.  The chance of developing breast cancer increases as you age, which is why women should get a mammogram at least once per year after they turn 40.

If you someone in your family was diagnosed with breast cancer you should talk to your doctor about receiving mammograms sooner.  Breast cancer may not have any physical signs or symptoms when it is first developing, so it will be impossible to pick up during self-examination.  However, a mammogram can pick up on breast cancer in its earliest stage.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

There are a few physical symptoms women may experience if they have breast cancer.  These symptoms do not mean that you have breast cancer, but they can be a warning sign, so you should get double checked by a doctor to be sure:

-       A new lump or swelling in the armpit

-       Changes in breast size or shape

-       Dimpling or puckering of the skin

-       Redness, swelling or warmth in the affected breast

-       Inverted nipple

-       Crusting or scaling on the nipple

Risk Factors of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when breast cells grow abnormally and form a tumor.  Doctors have not figured out exactly what causes these cells to change, but there are some factors that may increase your chances.

  1. Being a Women – Breast cancer is far more common in women than men. Less than 1% of people diagnosed with breast cancer are men.
  2. Personal History of Breast Cancer – If you were diagnosed with cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing it in the other.
  3. Family History – Approximately 10% of cases are linked to a genetics
  4. Obesity – Being dangerously overweight will increase your risk
  5. Alcohol – Excessive drinking could increase your risk
  6. Hormone Medication – Some women who take hormone medications to regulate menopausal symptoms have an increased risk
  7. Radiation – Frequent exposure to radiation also increases the risk of breast cancer

Healthy Changes You Can Make!

There are some risk factors you can’t control, but there are positive steps you can take to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer.  For one, maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.  Staying fit can be achieved with diet and exercise, which have additional cancer fighting benefits.  Exercising around 30 minutes each day a few days per week will cut down the risk of cancer.  Foods that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower have incredible cancer fighting capabilities.

Salmon also can help prevent breast cancer because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.  Also, if you are experiencing menopause, try to limit your reliance on hormone therapy.  If the post-menopausal symptoms are too much to handle, take the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible and stop as soon as you feel better.

Early detection is your best chance of surviving a breast cancer, so make sure to schedule a mammogram if you are over 40! You may not be able to control whether you develop breast cancer, but you will improve your chances of being a survivor by catching it as soon as possible.

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