What is Breast Cancer?

Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. Humans are made up of about 75 million cells that continually replicate themselves. Each cell has a set of genetic instructions in its center called DNA that controls cell growth, development and replication. When DNA gets damaged, it can replicate an altered cell and this can ultimately become cancer.

What are symptoms of breast cancer?

· Lumps can be painless or painful: firm, rubbery, or tender to the touch. They can be deep in the breast tissue, or close to the surface.
· A change occurs in the natural shape or contour of the breast including redness or swelling.
· The skin on the breast becomes thick, dimples, or retracts.
· A nipple discharge or pain in nipple that does not go away
· Nipples become tender, inverted, or crusty.
· Breast pain or constant tenderness

Tips to lower your risk of breast cancer

· Maintain a healthy weight for your age and height
· Exercise regularly
· Incorporate whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet
· Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day
· Breast feed your infants
· Avoid unnecessary x-rays and always wear a lead apron when x-rays are necessary.
· Get regular physicals and mammograms
· Avoid using hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

What is BSE?

Breast Self Exam is knowing how your breasts normally look and feel and checking for changes.
You can do this while in the shower or getting dressed or laying down. BSE is a step by step method to examine your breast and can be performed by women and men equally.

Women - Examine your breasts during the month when they are not normally tender. Usually the best time is about 3 days after your period.

1. Lie down. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right hand behind your head.
2. Move the pads of your left hands 3 middle fingers, held flat, in small, circular motions as you start to feel your right breast tissue.
3. Use a circular motion in an up and down pattern as you check the entire breast area. Include the area up to collarbone and below your breast and under your arm. Use light, medium and firm pressure.
4. Squeeze the nipple gently. Check for clear or bloody discharge.
5. Repeat steps on left breast.
6. Look in the mirror. Press hands firmly on your hips and look for any changes in shape of breasts. Also, look for puckering or redness of the skin.

Most lumps are not cancer. However, if you find a lump or have any of the symptoms mentioned, please consult your health professional at once.

Useful Links

Popular sites to receive additional information and assistance about breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer.

Susan G. Komen for the cure

Living beyond breast cancer

American Cancer Society

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Men against breast cancer

Mesothelioma Guide

Protect the Pecs

Cancer Family Care

What is BRAC Analysis?

The BRAC analysis doesn’t tell you if you HAVE cancer, but detects mutations in the BRCA1 And BRCA2 genes. Those mutations are responsible for the vast majority of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The test consists of either a small blood sample or oral rinse sample taken for analysis. The test results may enable you to make more informed health decisions and manage your healthcare needs more effectively.

You could have an inherited risk if:

You or a family member (mother or father) were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50.
You or a family member were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age.
You have a male family member with breast cancer
You have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer at any age.
You or a family member have had two or more breast cancers, one diagnosed under the age of 50
You have a previously identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation in your family

If you have a BRCA gene mutation, you could have up to an 87% risk of breast cancer and 44% risk of ovarian cancer in your lifetime.

There are several medical and non medical recommended options including:
· Oral contraceptives can significantly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
· Drugs such as tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer in some women.
· Preventive surgery such as a mastectomy or removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes would significantly reduce the future risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
· Some women may have individualized surveillance and/or screenings.