Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer, with over 12% of women diagnosed in their lifetime. Although more rare, men can develop breast cancer also. The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 2,300 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men in 2015.
It is important for both genders to understand risk factors as well as the signs and symptoms of this type of cancer.
Numerous risk factors can increase your chance of developing breast cancer. These include:
- Age – The likelihood of developing breast cancer is 10 times higher for a person over 70 years old.
- Genetics – Five to 10 percent of all breast cancers are linked to BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
- Family history – Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
- Breast density – As density of the breast increases (more fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue), risk increases.
- Ionizing radiation of breasts – Risk depends on radiation dose and age at exposure, with highest correlations for children who receive radiation before puberty.
- Obesity – Obesity after menopause increases breast cancer risk.
- Alcohol consumption – Those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have 1.5 higher risk then women who don’t drink alcohol.
Talk to your doctor about your risk factors.
Signs and Symptoms
Keep in mind that breast cancer can still develop even without these risk factors present, and many risk factors are still being researched. Breast cancer has more than an 89% five-year survival rate, but early detection is key.
Here are some common signs of breast cancer:
- A new lump or mass – which may be painless, or painful, hard or soft.
- Swelling – in all or part of the breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction – meaning the nipple turns inward
- A change in the skin of the nipple/breast – Whether by reddening, becoming scaly, or thickening
- Nipple discharge – any discharge that isn’t breast milk
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm/collarbone
If you have any concerns or questions related to these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.