Observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October has helped bring focus and funds to the fight against breast cancer. Still, many people have questions about the prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer, in addition to questions about breast reconstruction. In the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our Kalispell plastic surgeons are providing answers to 5 of the most commonly asked.
What Are Breast Cancer Risk Factors?
Doctors aren’t sure why certain women develop breast cancer, but there are known risk factors and lifestyle habits that are associated with the disease, including:
- Being overweight
- Habitual alcohol use
- Having your first child after age 30
Other breast cancer risk factors that you don’t control include having a family history of breast cancer, your age, genetics, and race or ethnicity. Ongoing research may establish other risk factors, including exposure to certain chemicals.
How Can You Prevent Breast Cancer?
There are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a stable, healthy weight are 2 lifestyle habits linked to lower chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Being physically active is another habit that is good for your overall health. If you plan to have children, breastfeeding is thought to play a role in breast cancer prevention. Limiting postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may also be recommended. You should consult with a physician to weigh the benefits and risks of HRT.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Even though detecting a small lump in the breast is probably the most widely known breast cancer symptom, there are many other symptoms that women should be aware of. Any unusual change in the breasts may be a potential symptom that should be checked by a physician. These changes include
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge other than breast milk from the nipple
- Lump in the underarm area
Monthly breast self-exams should be part of every woman’s health care routine to help ensure the early detection of cancer.
What Are Some Treatments for Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer treatment continues to improve, with several options available depending on the type and stage of cancer. Surgically removing the tumor is the most common first step, either through lumpectomy or mastectomy. Follow-up treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy.
What Does Breast Reconstruction Involve?
Breast reconstruction involves re-creating a natural-looking breast mound after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. At our practice, we typically use tissue expanders to create space for breast implants. Other techniques include using flaps of skin and underlying tissue from another part of the patient’s body. While reattachment of the nipple isn’t usually an option, patients can achieve remarkably realistic results with nipple tattooing. Learn more in this recent blog post.
If you or someone you know has additional questions regarding breast cancer or breast reconstruction surgery and is looking for a specialist near Kalispell, MT, please request a consultation online. You can also contact the practice office by phone at (406) 300-5746.