Breast Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Early Detection

Breast cancer symptoms and causes vary widely, as with most types of cancer, and some may have few, if any, risk factors and may not experience any symptoms at all. Causes can be genetic, hormonal or environmental in nature.

Both maternal and paternal family history should be considered in determining genetic risk factors, and risk is highest if the affected relative developed breast cancer at a young age, had cancer in both breasts, or is a first-degree relative such as a mother, sister, or daughter.

Although a couple of abnormal genes have been linked to breast cancer, testing is expensive and rarely covered by insurance. Anyone interested in being tested for the abnormal genetic markers should discuss their risk factors with their provider. Hormonal risks include women who started menstruation at an early age, as does a late onset of menopause. Having children before 30 years of age may reduce a woman’s risk, while remaining childless increases risk factors, as does using oral contraceptive pills, although risk decreases progressively once the pills are stopped. Read more…

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