Breast cancer is caused by multiple factors. Genetic mutations and family history are the main causes. Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations have a 60-80% increased risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. If a parent or sibling has breast cancer, the risk increases by two to four times. Relatives are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to occur. The duration of exposure to female hormones also has an effect. It is known that the risk of developing breast cancer increases by 1.5 to 2 times in women who have taken early menarche or late menopause, taking oral contraceptives, or taking hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
Breast cancer has no symptoms or pain. Periodic self-examination and breast examination are important for early detection. On the occasion of ‘Breast Cancer Prevention Month’ in October, I heard about breast cancer symptoms and self-diagnosis methods from Professor Kim Jae-il of the Department of Surgery at Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital.
◇’Dimples around the lump, dark red nipple discharge’ Suspected symptoms of breast cancer, ‘professional consultation’ required
Self-examination is important for early detection of breast cancer. It is advantageous for premenopausal women to self-exam one week after the onset of menstruation. That’s when the breasts are the most tender. Postmenopausal women are recommended to have regular self-examinations once a month. The self-examination method is implemented in three steps. The first step is ‘observing in front of a mirror’. Check for changes in the shape of your breasts. The second step is ‘standing or sitting facilitating’. Check the entire breast and armpits with the 2nd to 4th knuckles. The third step is to lie down and examine the same as the second step method.
◇Breast cancer self-examination step 3
Step 1 ‘Observing in front of a mirror’ = Observe with the naked eye while looking in a mirror to compare changes in the shape or contour of the breast.
Step 2 ‘Standing or sitting palpation’ = In a standing or sitting position, gently palpate the first knuckle of the 2nd to 4th fingers using the floor. Squeeze the nipple area and check for abnormal discharge.
Step 3 ‘facilitating while lying down’ = Examine in the same way as in step 2 and check for abnormalities found in the lying position.
Breast cancer is painless. Most breast pain has a physiological cause. Over 90% of the time, it disappears naturally. However, if the lump is touched or the skin around the lump changes, it may be a symptom of breast cancer. Depending on the location of the lump, the likelihood of cancer cannot be predicted. Usually, if a middle-aged woman feels a hard lump the size of a pea without pain, it may indicate breast cancer. Another danger sign is that the skin around the lump enters like a dimple or turns like a tangerine peel. If there are lumps near the nipples and discharge from the nipples that are red or dark red, it is better to get a breast cancer test.
Professor Kim Jae-il said, “Not all lumps that are touched in the breast are cancer, but there is a possibility that it may be cancer depending on age or accompanying symptoms. said.
◇ Women with dense breasts are at higher risk of breast cancer Early detection advantage of ‘mammography and breast ultrasound together’
‘Dense breast’ has a higher proportion of mammary gland tissue than adipose tissue. Women with dense breasts also have an increased risk of breast cancer. Korean women have a higher percentage of dense breasts than other countries, so management is essential.
Dense breasts are not easy to detect. It is not easy to confirm cancer with only general mammography examination. Because X-rays are difficult to penetrate, there is a limit to detecting breast tumors. For women with dense breasts, performing breast ultrasound along with general mammography is advantageous for early detection of breast cancer.
Professor Kim Jae-il said, “Women with dense breasts can see more detailed lesions through breast ultrasound. I recommend it,” he said.
◇ The most accurate prevention method ‘self-examination and mammography’… Women over the age of 30 are advised to conduct a ‘breast self-examination’ once a month.
There is no definitive way to prevent breast cancer. The most accurate prevention methods are ‘breast self-examination’ and ‘mammography’ for early detection. Women with no significant risk factors should start breast self-examination once a month from the age of 30. From the age of 35, see a breast examination by a mammologist. From the age of 40, mammography is recommended every 2 years. Women with risk factors such as family history should be screened earlier.
Professor Kim said, “Women who are anxious about self-examination due to symptoms or risk factors should consult with a mammologist and then receive a check-up that is tailored to the individual. “Because obesity and alcohol are also risk factors for breast cancer, proper exercise at least 5 times a week along with diet control is the first step in preventing breast cancer.”