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What are your breast cancer risk factors?

(BPT) – Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, aside from skin cancers. About one in eight women in the U.S. develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Fortunately, 90 percent of patients diagnosed with breast cancer will survive the disease.

“What most people may not realize is that men can get breast cancer as well, although it is 100 times more common among women,” Moeckly says.

Breast cancer usually originates in the linings of either the tubes (ducts) that carry milk or the glands (lobules) that manufacture milk.

Risk factors for breast cancer include:

Family medical history: About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from gene defects (called mutations) inherited from a parent. Having one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk. Having two first-degree relatives increases her risk about three-fold.

Personal history of breast cancer. A woman with cancer in one breast is three-to-four times more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a recurrence (return) of the first cancer.

Ethnicity: Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer.

“The first symptom is often the most common one – a new lump or mass,” Moeckly says. “A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft or rounded. They can even be painful.”

Getting annual mammograms can help detect breast cancer early and save your life, he adds.

“It is also important to have any new breast mass or lump or breast change checked by a health care professional because mammograms do not catch all breast cancer cases,” Moeckly says.

Treatment for breast cancer can be difficult and invasive, including chemotherapy and radiation. Both the treatment and the stress can have a detrimental impact on your health and appetite. Ensuring proper nutrition during treatment is very important, he adds. Paying careful attention to what you eat can also help ease the side-effects of treatment.

Stay adherent: As always make sure to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor and do not self-adjust.

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