Breast cancer prevention in premenopausal and postmenopausal women
Breast cancer is an epithelial tumor of the breast arising from the ducts or lobules of the breast. This is the most frequent type of cancer in women.
The practice of developed countries shows that today a disease can be effectively detected at an early stage using the latest methods for diagnosing, which means that it is possible to successfully fight the disease.
So, according to the US Cancer Institute, with timely detection, breast cancer can be cured in 98.1% of women!
Short information about breast cancer
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer (BC)
- Age over 40;
- High levels of estrogen in the blood;
- Relatives of the 1st line (mother, sister, aunt, grandmother) who are ill with BC;
- Taking hormonal drugs for the purpose of contraception or regulation of the menstrual cycle, hormone replacement therapy in menopause;
- First pregnancy over the age of 30;
- Previous ovarian or breast cancer;
- Contact with sources of radiation;
- Changes in the mammary gland, interpreted by the doctor as the occurrence of atypical epithelial hyperplasia. Although fibrocystic breast disease is not a precancerous condition, atypical changes in the epithelium of the breast ducts raise the risk of BC;
- Lack of childbirth and pregnancy;
- Endocrinological and metabolic disorders (thyroid disease, obesity);
- Early onset of menstruation (under 12 years) and/or late onset of menopause;
- Increased consumption of fatty foods.
What are the warning signs of BC?
- A lump in the breast that does not go away with your menstruation.
- Change in size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- Bloody or light-colored fluid from the nipples.
- Changed appearance of the breast skin or nipple (ripples, wrinkled skin, peeling or inflammation).
These changes can be noticed timely when a woman performs monthly breast examinations. By self-exam, you will learn about the normal monthly breast changes.
These tests should be done at the same time every month, three to five days after the end of your period.
In the early stages, the main manifestation of breast cancer is a hard mass in the mammary gland, detected by mammography, ultrasound, or other research methods, or by the woman herself (much less often, and mainly in women with small breasts). But it is necessary to understand that it is impossible to detect a tumor characterized by diffuse growth (without a dense part) without special instrumental methods. Regular preventive examinations once a year in most cases are sufficient to detect breast cancer in the early stages.
Breast cancer diagnosis
Modern diagnostic methods used all over the world are the key to successful treatment. As a result of a comprehensive diagnosis of a breast tumor, it becomes clear to the doctor how extended the process is. Then they can choose the optimal treatment tactics for each patient. The latest methods for diagnosing breast tumors, which can be conditionally divided into 3 groups:
Tumor imaging techniques:
- Radiological (mammography);
- Ultrasonic (ultrasound);
- Method of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Mammography uses special radiographs to identify abnormal changes in breast tissue. Pictures taken on a healthy breast are then used as a basis for comparison. The image is taken from different angles and the mammogram focuses on the lumps and pathological areas.
Why is a mammogram needed?
Mammograms are done as part of a regular medical check-up to monitor changes. The mammogram helps a doctor to see if there is a need for further testing. It is also useful to look for tiny growths that cannot be detected during a routine medical examination.
Mammography is the best safety measure against BC because it allows detecting it early. It means that the chance of full recovery and survival is much higher in regular mammography testing.
The risk of BC raises with age, so an annual mammogram is especially important after 40.
Younger women in the risk group should keep in mind that in their case mammogram can be less informative when breast tissue is still particularly dense. The self-exam is a necessary procedure from the age of 20, and do not forget about a medical examination every three years.
Prevention of breast cancer
According to the World Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF), the diet for cancer prophylaxis should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables. There should be a little meat, no more than eighty grams per day, mainly boiled, baked, or stewed. Moreover, the frequent consumption of red meat is best avoided. A proper diet, combined with high physical activity, can significantly reduce the risk of lung, breast, and colon cancers.
- Monitor your weight. Eat less high-calorie foods. The incidence of tumors increases significantly in obese people.
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. The high content of vitamins and other microelements (C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, which have antioxidant properties, vitamin A, folic acid, etc.) significantly reduce the risk of tumors.
- Eat more cereals. Cereal grains are rich in fiber and pectins. The property of these elements to bind carcinogens reduces the content of dangerous elements in the body, which in turn lowers the risk of cancer.
- Keep track of consumed alcohol. Studies say that consumption of more than 50 grams. strong alcohol (0.5 liters of beer or 0.25 liters of wine) per day raises the risk of cancer of the esophagus, colon, mouth, liver, and breast.
- Limit your intake of smoked, canned, and nitrate-containing foods. Smoking products contributes to the formation of carcinogenic substances in them. Nitrates and nitrites in the acidic environment of the stomach can form highly carcinogenic substances - nitrosamines. Eating smoked and nitrate-containing foods is related to a raised risk of esophageal and stomach cancer.
- Reduce your intake of animal fats. Numerous studies have proven the link between the eating of animal fats and the risk of different types of cancer.
Prevention of breast cancer in postmenopause
Women in postmenopause are at the highest risk of breast cancer as around 60% of all cases of the disease develop in women over 45. Thus, they should be especially responsible in terms of self-exams and yearly examinations. Some women in high-risk groups are even given medications that allow to substantially lowering the risk of BC, for instance, such medicines as selective estrogen receptor modulator Raloxifene. But you should not buy this drug without prior consulting your doctor and undergoing a thorough examination.
Screening is a routine examination of a healthy population in order to identify the earliest forms of a tumor. Breast cancer screening procedures are very simple and painless. So, women are recommended, depending on age, to carry out:
- At 20 - 39 years old - breast self-examination monthly, annually ultrasound, especially if a woman is at risk;
- Perform mammography once at the age of 35-39;
- From 40 years - self-examination monthly, annually - mammography.
Post by: Katherine Christensen, sexologist, Copenhagen, Denmark
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