10 Unknown Facts About Breast Cancer

Written by Pliro
Oct 17, 2016 Last updated: Dec 26, 2017

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and the most common cancer amongst females. In Pakistan alone, at least 90,000 new cases are reported every year with approximately every 1 in 9 women likely to suffer from this disease in their lives.

However, many fail to realize that men can get breast cancer too and an early detection for both can be life-saving and curable. Here are 10 facts about breast cancer that you may not know

  1. Men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer; despite it being uncommon, approximately every 1 man in a 1,000 will be diagnosed with this disease, with a higher risk of being detected in the later stages.
  2. Breast cancer is not always inherited; most cases (around 85%) of women with breast cancer have no family history of cancer or any disease of the sorts. Only a small percentage develop the disease due to genetics.
  3. Most people survive; the ongoing research to it’s treatments and an early detection of the disease has helped increase the chances of survival from breast cancer, around the world. However, the statistic drops specifically in Pakistan where breast screening is uncommon and thus the cancer is detected when it may be too late.
  4. Being diagnosed with breast cancer increases risk of other cancers; if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re up to 4 times more likely to develop a new cancer in the same or other breast. As a result, doctors recommend further screenings even when you’re in the clear.
  5. Most lumps are not cancerous; only a few of the breast lumps found during screening are cancerous, with 8 out of 10 women discovering breast cancer lumps themselves.
  6. More women are considering mastectomies;  although not as much in Pakistan than globally, more and more women are choosing to have their breasts surgically removed in a bid to prevent the cancer from developing, especially after Angelina Jolie Pitt publicly declared her decision to undergo a double mastectomy.
  7. Exercise can lower risks; research has been done to show that moderate to high intensity exercise daily (around 30 to 60 minutes) makes a risk reduction of  being diagnosed with breast cancer.
  8. Breast cancer can spread; late detection of the disease can result in the cancer moving to the lymph nodes (part of the lymphatic system, they carry cells and fluid throughout the body). Particularly the collar bone and underarms, once spread the cancer becomes harder to remove.
  9. Breast cancer rates haven’t changed over the decade; overall breast cancer rates started dropping in the year 2000, attributed to the major decrease in use of menopausal hormone therapy by women. However, despite remaining constant, the rates among Asian and Black women has increased slightly.
  10. Quitting smoking controls the risk of breast cancer; younger women who smoke have a higher risk of the disease than compared to their nonsmoking peers, according to studies.

Breast cancer symptoms vary from lumps to swelling to skin changes, and sometimes there may be no symptoms at all. As a result, a self-breast examination should be part of your monthly health care routine, and you should visit your doctor if you experience breast changes. The sooner the cancer is found and diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it are.