Breast Cancer Awareness: Statistics, Facts, and Prevention

Summary: Breast cancer is a concerning health condition affecting many in the U.S. It's important to undergo routine screenings to diagnose the disease early.

Cancer of the breast is a health problem that affects a significant number of individuals yearly throughout the U.S. With October as the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there's no better time than now to learn more about the risk factors of this health condition, along with preventive measures and treatment options.

Like all forms of cancer, breast cancer is caused when clusters of cells begin dividing erratically and exceedingly, rather than going through their usual life cycles and processes. Breast cancer often starts in the milk-generating ducts when DNA in these cells starts to mutate. If mutated cells develop more rapidly than the body can get rid of them, the mass of cells forms a tumor.

Tumors in the breast can develop in many areas of glandular tissue, or even in the fatty breast tissue that encompasses and shields the milk-secreting structures of the breast. In some rare cases, cancer of the breast can even metastasize to additional regions around the body, including the gastrointestinal system. Under such circumstances, the specialists at Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates collaborate with other healthcare practitioners in Hinsdale, IL to provide care for cancer that metastasizes to the digestive system. Obtaining an early breast cancer diagnosis is vital to protecting your general health and wellness. 

What are common breast cancer risk factors?

Cancer of the breast is among the most prevalent cancers impacting women. One out of every eight women will experience the condition at some point in their lives. It's estimated that over 280,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in 2021, and around 50,000 women will be diagnosed with noninvasive carcinoma in situ breast cancer.

The majority of women diagnosed with cancer of the breast are over 55; however, breast cancer ranks among the main causes of mortality among women between the ages of 35 and 55. NonHispanic white women and non-Hispanic African American women have the highest risk for breast cancer, although Latina women and African American women have a higher probability of dying from this form of cancer.

Genetic factors also increase the chance of being diagnosed with the disease. Patients with relatives who have had cancer of the breast are more likely to experience the condition during 

their lives. Though being female, of older age, or hereditary factors can’t be changed, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk or help prevent the development of breast cancer.

Various other breast cancer risk factors include: 

  • Breastfeeding for under a year
  • Poor diet 
  • Chemical contraception and other forms of hormone intake
  • Lack of exercise 
  • Tobacco use 
  • Becoming pregnant over the age of 30
  • Radiation therapy before age 30
  • Low levels of vitamin D
  • Alcohol use
  • Being overweight
  • Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Making changes to your lifestyle while regularly receiving screenings can help minimize your risk of getting breast cancer, especially if any of the above factors apply to you. 

What should I know about the different types of breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast is diagnosed as noninvasive carcinoma in situ or malignant (invasive) cancer. Noninvasive cancers are groupings of cells that grow more or less in one location, splitting irregularly but not becoming modified outside of their primary functions in other ways. They can commonly be removed via a surgical process and carry a lower probability of returning.

Invasive breast cancers are more injurious since they spread threads of cells into the nearby area, occasionally even breaking off bits of themselves and circulating to other regions throughout the body. Malignant tumors can also create and emanate harmful hormones and other factors that unfavorably impact bodily tissues.

The general categories of breast cancer include: 

  • Lobular carcinoma: Lobular carcinoma begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules). When this kind of tumor is in situ, it's the least dangerous form of breast tumor since it's not likely to branch out. However, it should still be cared for as recommended by a doctor, as its existence can point to the possibility of further tumor development as time goes on. If lobular carcinomas are diagnosed as invasive, they're generally more concerning and especially challenging to diagnose.
  • Paget disease of the nipple: This is a type of breast cancer that starts in the nipple or the areola area of the breast.
  • Phyllodes tumors: These are non-malignant tumors that begin in connective tissue fibers. 
  • Ductal carcinoma: This type of cancer originates in milk ducts. It can be invasive, spreading beyond the mild duct and invading other tissues of the breast, or in situ, which means it stays in the milk ducts. In the event that it's caught in the very early stage, in situ cancers are relatively easy to address, but they might become malignant if without proper treatment. Unfortunately, around 80% of breast cancers involve invasive ductal carcinomas.
  • Angiosarcoma: A rare type of cancer, angiosarcoma begins in the skin, blood vessels, or lymph vessels.

What does a breast cancer screening include?

The most effective way to reduce the risk of break cancer, along with living an active, healthy lifestyle, is to schedule screenings for breast cancer on a regular basis. These screenings often include a clinical examination of the breast tissue in addition to a mammogram, or radiographic imaging of the breast conducted to check for excessively dense breast tissue. Regular breast exams are very critical for identifying breast carcinomas in the early stages and allowing for the greatest possible health outcomes. Patients can also carry out self-breast cancer exams and should do so on a routine basis. A physician can provide instructions on how to perform selfexams properly. 

Book your breast cancer screening

The doctors at Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month and urge people in Hinsdale, IL to help preserve their overall health by having regular screenings for breast cancer. To determine the ideal procedures for diagnosing breast cancer and the best way to preserve your health, it’s recommended to undergo routine breast cancer screenings conducted by a skilled physician.