By Tavia Young, APRN, Methodist Women’s Services
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide and accounts
for 250,000 cancer cases in the United States each year. Approximately
40,000 women in America die annually from breast cancer, making breast
cancer the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
What are some of the warning signs of breast cancer?
- A new lump in the breast or armpit
- Thickening/swelling of part of the breast
- Skin changes of breast, including dimpling
- Redness/flaking/pulling in of the nipple area
- Nipple discharge
- Change in size or shape of breast
- Pain in area of the breast
What are some of the risk factors for breast cancer?
- Age (most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50)
- Having certain inherited genes (BRCA 1 and BRCA 2)
- More exposure to hormones (starting period before age 12, late or no pregnancy,
onset of menopause 55+, taking hormone replacement therapy for extended time)
- Being inactive, being overweight after menopause
- Having dense breast tissue
- Family or personal history of breast cancer
- Drinking alcohol
What can be done to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer?
- Planning birth of first child before age 30
- Breastfeeding for at least six months
- Avoiding or limiting use of menopausal hormone therapy
- Limiting alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco
- Maintaining healthy weight and staying physically active
Though mammography screenings do not decrease the risk of developing breast
cancer, it does significantly decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer.
Who should be screened and when?
The American Cancer Society suggests:
- Women age 40-44 should be given the choice to start annual screening mammograms.
- Women age 45-54 should get annual mammograms.
- Women 55 and older should switch to biannual mammogram screenings or continue
- Screening continues as long as the woman is expected to live 10 years or longer.
Women should also know how their breasts normally feel and look and immediately
report changes to a health care provider.
About Tavia Young, APRN
Tavia Young is a board certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurse who
provides care at Methodist Women’s Services at 736 North Elm Street
in Henderson. To schedule an appointment with Tavia, call 270-827-4000.