Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer, too.
It’s important to understand that most breast lumps are benign and not cancer (malignant). Non-cancerous breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast. They are not life threatening, but some types of benign breast lumps can increase a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer. Any breast lump or change needs to be checked by a health care professional to determine if it is benign or malignant (cancer) and if it might affect your future cancer risk.
Researchers have found several factors that increase your risk of breast cancer.
Some that you can not control include:
- Race: breast cancer is slightly more likely to develop in white females, than African-American, Hispanic, and Asian females. However, African-American females are more likely to develop more aggressive, more advanced-stage breast cancer that is diagnosed at a young age.
- Gender: while men do develop breast cancer, less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases happen in men.
- Genetic: in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor that can help indicate breast cancer. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, there is greater risk of developing this disease.
- Age: according to the American Cancer Society, about 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers develop in women younger than 45, while about 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
While you can’t control all things that increase your risk of breast cancer, there are somethings that you can adjust to help lower your risk. By improving your health through a healthy diet, proper exercise, and limiting your consumption of tobacco and alcohol, you can lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Before making any changes to your diet or starting any exercise program, consult your doctor.