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Breast Cancer

Risk Factors and Treatments in NJ, CT, and MD

 

Early detection of cancer enables patients to receive treatment sooner. Breast cancer is no exception, which is why women have regular mammograms. In addition to that important step, knowing the risk factors for breast cancer also can help patients recognize the disease and obtain a diagnosis and treatment in a timely manner. Patients with risk factors for breast cancer are routinely seen by doctors at Regional Cancer Care Associates in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area.

Are You at Risk for

Breast Cancer?

According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes in the United States.

As one of the most common cancers in the U.S., breast cancer affects about one in every eight women. It also affects about 2,500 men each year. If you or a loved one is battling with or recovering from breast cancer, the specialists at Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) can help. Serving New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut, we’re committed to offering patients state-of-the-art services and all the information they need to make the best medical decisions.

Common Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

 

More than 700 breast cancer diagnoses are made every day in the U.S. Some risk factors for the disease can be addressed by lifestyle changes, while others cannot. However, people who understand breast cancer risk factors can monitor closely for symptoms and educate themselves about breast cancer treatments.

Patient with breast cancer leans on caretaker’s shoulder

Common risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Age: As we age, the risk of breast cancer increases, especially after age 40. The median age for first-time breast cancer diagnosis in the U.S. is 62 years old for women and 67 years old for men, with people older than 70 at the highest risk. Other age-related breast cancer risk factors are starting menstruation younger than 12 years old and starting menopause after age 55.
  • Sex: Far more women get breast cancer than men. However, it is important to remember that men also are at risk for breast cancer.
  • Genetics: Some inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, are known risk factors for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. There also are less commonly known gene mutations that may lead to a slight increase in risk for breast cancer, such as ATM, TP53, PTEN, and STK11. Genetic testing and counseling are available at Regional Cancer Care Associates.
  • Medical history: This category applies to both personal medical history and family medical history. A prior breast cancer diagnosis carries a higher risk for recurrence in both women and men. A person’s risk also increases if a first-degree relative, such as a daughter, mother, father, brother, or sister, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Medications: One medication tied to an increased risk of breast cancer is diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was prescribed for pregnant women from 1940 to 1971 to prevent miscarriage. The children of these women also are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, some research indicates that hormonal contraceptive methods may increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. There is also research that indicates a higher risk of breast cancer related to the use of progestin and estrogen for more than five years in post-menopausal hormone therapy. This hormone-related research is inconclusive and ongoing.
  • Lifestyle: There are a variety of healthy lifestyle practices that can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Drinking less than two alcoholic beverages per day is one way for women to decrease their risk of developing breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active also are thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense connective tissue: The composition of breast tissue is another possible risk factor for breast cancer. Women with more connective tissue and less fatty tissue may have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer. Mammogram imaging is less able to show tumors with this type of breast tissue. However, specialists are using new technologies, such as 3D mammography, and combining ultrasound with mammography for these patients to help increase the detection of any abnormalities.
  • Pregnancy: Becoming pregnant at an early age, or after turning age 30, may increase the chances of breast cancer. Women who have never carried a pregnancy to full term also are at higher risk.
Doctor explaining scan to patient

RISK FACTORS, SIGNS, AND SYMPTOMS OF BREAST CANCER​

 

Learning the risk factors for breast cancer, combined with knowledge of the signs and symptoms of the disease, greatly aids in its early detection. The most common symptoms include:

  • Lumps in the breast or armpit
  • Pain that is persistent in the breast, including the nipple
  • Noticeable changes to the appearance of the breast
  • Discharge from the nipple, unless breastfeeding or pregnant
  • Unexplained weight loss

Reduce Your Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in NJ, CT, and MD

People who are concerned about their risk factors for breast cancer should consult with the expert physicians of Regional Cancer Care Associates. They provide consultations, diagnoses, and treatments for cancer and blood disorders at 25 facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. Request an appointment at the nearest location today.

Learn More About Your Risk Factors

Some risk factors are out of your control, while others can be addressed by changes in lifestyle. Either way, being aware of these breast cancer risk factors and knowing whether they apply to you can greatly increase your chances of detecting breast cancer early should you develop it. At Regional Cancer Care Associates, we help patients navigate through their risk level by analyzing their family history and ordering genetic testing if necessary. For more information, contact us today.

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