Every year, October 1st marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is important because breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer among women. At The Surgical Clinic, our expert surgeons specialize in helping patients with breast cancer.
We have written this article to increase awareness about this disease. Our team is here for you in the Greater Nashville Area to be a resource for any questions or concerns you have. If you would like a face to face consultation, come visit one of our local Davidson county offices.
Understanding Breast Cancer
Data shows that in the United States, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer can occur in men too, but it is most commonly found in women. Breast cancer is an uncontrolled and unhealthy cell growth in the breast.
During the process of cell growth, new cells form abnormally when the body doesn’t need them and old or damaged cells do not die as they should. When this occurs, the build-up of cancer cells forms into a mass of tissue called a lump, growth, or tumor. Breast cancer can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. If this happens, lymph nodes and vital organs can become diseased, thus affecting the patient’s quality of life.
Symptoms or Signs of Breast Cancer
One important step of breast cancer awareness is knowing the symptoms. Every person should know about breast cancer symptoms, because anyone may be affected by it. Some breast cancer signs may include:
- A lump or thickening in the breast that feels different from the surrounding tissue
- Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
- Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
- A newly inverted nipple
- Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the
- Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast
- Abnormal nipple discharge
If you have noticed one of these symptoms of breast cancer, you should make an appointment with your doctor for a mammogram immediately. One potential symptom of cancer is breast pain. It is not usually seen in early cancer development, but it may be a sign in recurring or later cancer stages. There are also many types of breast cancer, but knowing these symptoms will help you find treatment quickly and reduce the risk of complications.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Most risk factors for breast cancer are beyond your control, such as age, family history, and medical history. Simply being a woman is a risk factor. Passing age 40 is also a risk factor. However, there are some risk factors you can control, such as weight, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.
The end result of breast cancer awareness is increased prevention. Simple daily life changes may help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about regular breast cancer screening mammograms and other clinical tests. Regular screenings will increase the chance for early detection and minimize cancer growth.
You can also do at-home breast screenings. Visiting a mammography facility or specialist yearly is also recommended. Yearly professional breast screenings will help you catch any early symptoms. If you are concerned that a traditional screening will not be effective, a digital mammography may reveal more results.
Consistent exercise and other healthy habits will reduce common risk factors. Eating a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables will give your body vital nutrients that help prevent cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce the risks of breast cancer. It is also important to avoid foods with extra added sugars. Processed foods can lead to more inflammation and other health risks. Being mindful of the foods you eat will help you maintain your health and lose weight.
Treatment depends on the stage of cancer. It may consist of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. With a diagnosis of breast cancer, we know that you want both the best surgical options for getting rid of the disease and the best options for what you can do to heal.
At The Surgical Clinic, your physician and the entire surgical team is focused on supporting you with the most advanced treatment techniques. Visit our surgeon’s page to meet the surgical team and learn more about our approach to treatment.
Typically, because cancer creates harmful cell growths or tumors, removing the growth is a natural step. Removing the tumor surgically is quite common. After successful surgery, patients may wish to undergo breast reconstruction surgery.
Your breast cancer surgeon can offer more information about surgery options for cancer treatment and recovery. You can also learn more about breast cancer surgery with Dr. Mark E. Cooper, MD, FACS.