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Prevention and Screening for Breast Cancer: Information for women and their families

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Priyanka Singh 96% (218 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Obs and Gynae, MRCOG(London), DNB, Fellowship In Uro Gynaecology
Gynaecologist, Mumbai  •  13 years experience
Prevention and Screening for Breast Cancer: Information for women and their families

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. It occurs in both women and men, although breast cancer in men is rare.

Risk factors:

More importantly, you can lower your risk of having breast cancer by the following measures:

  •  Have regular physical activities, do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activities per week (e.g. climbing stairs or brisk walking)
  • Avoid alcohol drinking;
  • Maintain a healthy body weight and waist circumference - aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 22.9, and a waist circumference of not more than 80cm for women; and
  • Have childbirth at an earlier age and breastfeed each child for longer duration factors include:

What are the common symptoms of breast cancer?

The symptoms of breast cancer may not be easily noticed at an early stage. Any of the following changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:

• Breast lump;

• A change in the size or shape of the breast;

• A change in skin texture of the breast or nipple (e.g. red, scaly, thickened or “orange-skin” appearance);

• Rash around the nipple;

• In-drawing of the nipple;

• Discharge from one or both nipples;

• New and persistent discomfort or pain in the breast or armpit; and

• A new lump or thickening in the armpit

What is breast cancer screening? Should I screen for breast cancer if I do not have any symptom?

Screening means examining people without symptoms in order to detect disease or fi nd people at increased risk of disease. It is often the fi rst step in making a defi nitive diagnosis. For breast cancer screening, its purpose is to fi nd women who have breast cancer, before they have any symptom, in order to offer them earlier treatment.

Mammography is widely used as a screening tool. It is an X-ray examination of the breasts. During mammography, the breast is pressed between 2 plates to flatten and spread the breast tissue, in order to obtain a clear image. Some women may find it uncomfortable or painful but the discomfort is usually short lasting. Mammography screening is safe in general and only a very small dose of radiation is used in the procedure. One in 5 female breast cancer patients may be missed by mammography.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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