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Introduction to breast cancer


Breast or mama cancer is the second leading cause of death in women in the United States.

In 2015, approximately 232,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and about 40,000 women died from this terrible disease. The average age for the diagnosis of breast cancer is between 55 and 64 years of age and an average age of death at 68 years of age.

“Today, thanks to the technological development for the early detection and treatments against breast cancer – despite the fact that the number of women diagnosed each year has not changed much – the number of cases in advanced stage at the time of diagnosis and number of deaths due to breast cancer has dropped significantly. This is why we must work and put our energies into recognizing the risk factors and preventive measures against breast cancer. ”

Among the risk factors for the development of breast cancer, there are two types. Some, which are not modifiable, such as those of a hereditary nature. These are due to mutations or specific changes of genes that increase the risk of cancer. One of the most known mutations or genetic changes are called BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 (from the initials in English BReast CAncer). But there are many other genetic mutations such as ATM, CDH1, NF1, TP53 to name a few. Unfortunately, these mutations are passed down from generation to generation which means that members of these families, both women and men, are at risk of developing different types of cancer including breast, colon, stomach, pancreas, ovarian, uterine (or womb) cancer. ) among others.

This is why it is very important that if you, or someone you know, have two or more blood relatives diagnosed with this type of cancer, talk to their doctors to see if it is necessary to do genetic studies to evaluate this type of mutation. It should be noted that most breast cancers are not genetic. In the United States, only 5% to 10% of breast or breast cancers are related to this type of genetic mutation.

This means that the vast majority of breast cancers are due to other factors that depend and are strongly related to our habits and lifestyles. Today, the direct relationship of factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, the use of tobacco, alcohol, stress, etcetera, with health problems and certain types of cancers including breast cancer is well recognized. In turn, there is also a strong and direct relationship between protective factors against these diseases such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, healthy lifestyle habits and medication, among others.

It is very important that you talk with your doctor about the monitoring and evaluation programs for the prevention or early detection of certain types of cancers, including breast cancer. Mammography is an example of this type of program. Mammography is a test in which x-ray images of your breasts are taken and according to the changes that are seen, your doctors can recommend other more detailed exams, such as biopsies of that part of your breasts. A biopsy is when your doctor takes a small sample or piece of some part of your body and sends it to the laboratory to be examined. The current recommendation to start with mammography is at 50 years of age, every two years and up to 74 years of age. Your doctor may recommend a mammogram before age 50, depending on your personal or family history.

That is why it is very important to talk with your doctor about your “family tree” or your relatives who have been diagnosed with cancer. In certain situations, the tests that are normally done for the early detection of these cancers change according to your family history.

Finally, I would like to recommend the following websites where you can get more information about this and other topics of interest:


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