Sharing Breast Cancer Awareness in the Month of October


Since October is dedicated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now it is a great opportunity to learn more about the risk factors of this life-altering condition, in addition to prevention and the importance of routine screenings. Breast cancer is a disease that impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients yearly in the United States. Like all forms of cancer, it develops when aggregates of cells begin dividing randomly and abnormally rather than progressing through their usual life span and biological process. Often, breast cancer originates in the milk-yielding ducts when genetic material in these cells begins to become altered. When altered cells reproduce more swiftly than the body can expel them, a tumor develops.

Tumors or growths in the breast can arise in various parts of lobules, along with the fat (adipose) tissue surrounding and protecting the milk-producing regions of the breast. While rare, cancer of the breast can even spread to further structures within the body, including the gastrointestinal (GI) system. In those situations, the gastroenterologists at Colorado Gastroenterology in Denver, CO work with other practitioners and specialists to address cancer metastasis concerning digestive tissues. Ensuring an early breast cancer diagnosis is integral to protecting your overall health.

What are common breast cancer risk factors?

Cancer of the breast is among the most common types of cancer impacting women, and one in eight women will develop the disease at some point in their lives. It is anticipated that over 280,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis throughout 2021, and almost 50,000 women will receive a noninvasive carcinoma in situ breast cancer diagnosis.

Most women who develop cancer of the breast are over 55, but breast cancer remains one of the top causes of mortality for women aged 35 – 55. Non-Hispanic African American women and non-Hispanic white women have the highest risk for cancer of the breast, while Latina women and African American women are most likely to die from this form of cancer.

Genetic factors also increase the risk of developing this form of cancer. Patients with relatives who have had breast cancer are more likely to experience the condition over the course of their lives. Though being a woman, of older age, or hereditary factors cannot be changed, there are a number of things that a person can do to reduce the risk of or help prevent breast cancer.

Additional factors that may elevate the chance of developing breast cancer are as follows:

  • Inadequate amounts of vitamin D

  • Alcohol use

  • Becoming pregnant over the age of 30

  • Lack of exercise

  • Radiation therapy before age 30

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Chemical contraception and other forms of hormone intake

  • Obesity

  • Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

  • Breastfeeding for less than a year

  • Tobacco use

Adjusting your lifestyle and receiving routine checkups can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer, particularly if any of the factors listed above apply to you.

What are the various types of breast cancer?

Cancer of the breast may be identified as either invasive, also called malignant, or noninvasive carcinoma in situ. Cancers of a noninvasive nature are groupings of cells that proliferate more or less in one place, dividing atypically but not becoming altered in excess of their primary functions in other ways. They can commonly be removed surgically and are not as likely to reform.

Malignant cancers are of greater concern given that they disperse strands of cells into the nearby area, at times even detaching bits of themselves and propagating to other locations in the body. These tumors can also create and discharge destructive hormones and other factors that perilously impact bodily tissues.

The various classifications of breast cancer include:

  • Lobular carcinoma: This form of cancer begins in the lobules of the milk-producing glands. If this kind of carcinoma is in situ, it is considered the least harmful type of breast tumor since it is unlikely to grow. Although, it should still be cared for as recommended by a doctor since its presence could suggest the likelihood of additional tumors developing over time. In the event that lobular carcinomas are diagnosed as invasive, they are generally more concerning and are especially hard to identify.

  • Ductal carcinoma: This type of cancer begins in milk ducts. It can be invasive, meaning it spreads out of the milk duct and into other parts of the breast. Ductal carcinoma can also be in situ, remaining in the milk ducts. If detected in the very early stage, in situ cancers are commonly simple to address, although they may become malignant without treatment. It is important to note that around 80% of breast carcinomas are invasive ductal carcinomas.

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

  • Angiosarcoma: This less common variation of carcinoma begins in the skin, blood vessels, or lymph vessels.

  • Paget disease of the nipple: This is cancer that originates in the areola or nipple.

Why are screenings for breast cancer important?

Besides living a healthy and active lifestyle, the most effective way to reduce the risk of break cancer is to receive screenings for breast cancer on a routine basis. Breast cancer screenings commonly include a clinical breast exam in addition to a mammogram or x-ray imaging of the breast carried out to check for dense areas of tissue. Regular breast exams are especially crucial for diagnosing breast cancer early and facilitating the greatest chance of survival. Individuals can also conduct a breast self-exam and should do so routinely. A doctor can demonstrate how to do this correctly.

Book your breast cancer screening today

The experts at Colorado Gastroenterology are honored to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month and urge people in Denver, CO to help guard their general health by booking regular evaluations for breast cancer. To ascertain your individual breast cancer risk and the ideal way to preserve your health, it is important to undergo regular breast cancer screenings with a qualified medical professional.