Cancer of the breast is a serious disease that is second only to lung cancer in its prevalence in women. The more you know about cancer of the breast, the more you can lower your chances of getting the disease–or, at the very least, you can recognize the early warning signs, thus greatly increasing your chances of survival.
While women develop breast cancer about 100 times more often than men, men should be aware that they can get the disease too. Contrary to popular belief, men are not immune to breast cancer. Men need to be just as conscious of risk factors and early warning signs as women.
There are many risk factors for cancer of the breast, so you should ask your own doctor about those that especially pertain to you. There are, however, many common risk factors everyone needs to be familiar with. Genetics play a large part in breast cancer development. If several people in your family have had breast cancer, you need to stay vigilant by performing self-exams monthly, visiting your doctor at least once a year, and making lifestyle adjustments to reduce your risks. Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages daily has also been shown to increase breast cancer risks. Women who don’t eat a well-balanced diet and don’t exercise regularly are also at risk.
The most important methods to prevent cancer of the breast are performing monthly self-exams and getting annual mammograms or screenings from your doctor’s office or a clinic. These can catch cancer development in its early stages, when it is significantly easier to treat. Besides getting regular tests, men and women can decrease their risk by leading healthy lifestyles–getting plenty of aerobic exercise, eating nutritious meals that are low in fat, and avoiding excessive use of alcohol.
Women and men who are diagnosed with cancer of the breast early are often able to overcome the disease with a relatively simple operation to remove the cancerous tissues. After surgery, the patient may need to take a regimen of drugs or radiation that will kill off any remaining cancer cells in the body and prevent new ones from developing. Those who have more advanced stages of the disease, however, might have to undergo treatments that can produce harsher side effects. Chemotherapy, a common option that kills cancerous cells, often produces unwanted side effects such as nausea or hair loss, but this treatment may be necessary in order to beat the cancer. Mastectomies (total removal of the breast and surrounding tissue) are also common treatments for patients who are at a high risk of developing recurrent breast cancer.
Those who identify cancer of the breast in the first stage and receive commonly accepted treatments from a licensed physician have a 100 percent chance of survival, but the chances begin to decrease as the disease advances. This makes it very important for women and men to see their doctors regularly and perform self-exams at home.