What Are Your Breast Cancer Risk Factors? the Answers Could Surprise You

By Brandpoint | St. Joseph News-Press, October 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

What Are Your Breast Cancer Risk Factors? the Answers Could Surprise You


Brandpoint, St. Joseph News-Press


(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.

A diagnosis of cancer can be difficult for patients and their caregivers to receive. David Moeckly is a specialist pharmacist in the Express Scripts Oncology Therapeutic Resource Center and he helps patients understand the condition and manage the complex treatment regimens.

"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. …

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