Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Cancer of the breast is a concerning disease that impacts a significant number of individuals annually across the United States. Given that October is the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there's no better time than now to learn more about the risk factors of this medical issue and the importance of routine breast cancer screenings.

Breast cancer, like all forms of cancer, results when aggregates of cells start to divide randomly and excessively, as opposed to their typical life cycles and biological course. Breast cancer often originates in the milk-generating ducts when DNA in these cells begins to mutate. In situations where modified cells replicate at a faster rate than the body can dispose of them, the mass of cells forms a tumor.

An abnormal tissue mass in the breast can arise in various areas of milk-producing tissues, or even in the fatty tissue surrounding and protecting the milk-secreting regions of the breast. In some rare cases, breast cancers can even metastasize to other regions of the body, including the digestive tract. In such cases, the specialists at Adult Gastroenterology Associates in Tulsa, OK partner with other healthcare practitioners to address any cancers that spread to the gastrointestinal tissues. Ensuring a breast cancer diagnosis as early as possible is essential to safeguarding your general health.

Who is at risk for breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in women, and one in eight women will develop the disease during their lives. It's anticipated that more than 280,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis during 2021, and nearly 50,000 will be diagnosed with noninvasive carcinoma in situ breast cancer.

The highest number of women who get breast cancer are over 55, although breast cancer remains one of the main causes of death among women between the ages of 35 and 55. Non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic African American women have the highest risk for breast cancer; however, Latina women and African American women are most likely to die as a result of this form of cancer.

A person's genetics can also increase their risk of developing the condition. Individuals with family members who have had breast cancer are more likely to have the disease at some point in their lives. While being a female, being of older age, and having a familial history of cancer cannot be altered, there are several things that a person can do to help ward off or reduce their risk of breast cancer.

A number of other breast cancer risk factors include:

  • Radiation treatment earlier than age 30

  • Alcohol use

  • Taking hormones, such as chemical contraceptives

  • Breastfeeding for less than a year

  • Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

  • Low levels of vitamin D

  • Lack of exercise

  • Pregnancy over the age of 30

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • Unhealthy dietary habits

Improving your lifestyle while scheduling routine screenings can help reduce your chance of getting breast cancer, especially if any of the above factors apply to you.

What should I know about the different types of breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast is identified as either malignant (invasive) or noninvasive carcinoma in situ. Noninvasive cancers are collections of cells that grow more or less in one location, splitting irregularly but not mutating in excess of their principal functions in other ways. These cells may be excised through surgical means and are less likely to return.

Malignant types of tumors are more injurious, as they spread strings of cells into the surrounding area, occasionally even breaking off and spreading to other areas of the body. Malignant tumors might also produce and emit damaging hormones and other factors that unfavorably impact bodily tissues.

The various forms of breast cancer include:

  • Lobular carcinoma: This type of breast cancer starts in the milk-producing glands (lobules). When this form of tumor is in situ, it's regarded as the least serious form of breast tumor and is unlikely to metastasize. Even still, it should be cared for as specified by a physician since it could signal the probability of further tumor development over time. If lobular carcinomas are diagnosed as invasive, they're typically more detrimental and often difficult to identify.

  • Paget disease of the nipple: This type of breast cancer initiates in the nipple or the areola of the breast.

  • Phyllodes tumors: These non-malignant types of tumors start in connective tissue fibers.

  • Ductal carcinoma: Beginning in the milk ducts, this form of cancer can be invasive, spreading beyond the milk duct and reaching into other areas of the breast. Ductal carcinoma can also be in situ, which means it remains in the milk ducts. When detected in the very early stage, in situ cancers are relatively simple to address; however, they can become malignant if left untreated. Unfortunately, approximately 80% of breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas.

  • Angiosarcoma: This rare type of cancer originates in the skin, lymph vessels, or blood vessels.

Reduce the risk of breast cancer with routine screenings

In addition to maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, the best way to help prevent breast cancer is to schedule breast cancer screenings as part of your regular routine. Breast cancer screenings often include a clinical evaluation followed by a mammogram, which is x-ray imaging of the breast carried out to screen for overly dense breast tissue. Routine breast exams are extremely essential for catching breast carcinomas in the early stages and enabling the best possible health outcomes. Individuals can also perform a self-breast cancer exam and should do so regularly. A physician can provide instructions on how to conduct this in the correct way.

Set up a breast cancer screening

The doctors at Adult Gastroenterology Associates are pleased to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month and encourage individuals in Tulsa, OK to help safeguard their general health by setting up regular examinations for breast cancer. To ascertain the optimal procedures for breast cancer detection and the best way to preserve your health, it’s recommended to receive regular breast cancer screenings from a qualified medical practitioner.