Breast cancer is a deadly disease, and one that affects around one in eight women. This can also occur in men but it is more common in women. It is also one of the oldest known forms of cancer, and the fifth most common cause of death. While the exact causes of this type of cancer are still poorly understood, it is known that there are a number of risk factors to be aware of, including viral mutagenesis and ionizing radiation exposure. Having certain genes also increases the chances of someone developing this disease.

Causes of Breast Cancer:

The greatest risk factor that contributes to the development of breast cancer is being a woman. It is 100 times more common than what it is in man. The older a woman gets, the more chance she has of developing this kind of cancer, with almost 80% being diagnosed in women over the age of 50. Between 5% and 10% are caused directly by a gene mutation, most particularly the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Women who have direct relatives who have had the illness are also at increased risk. Furthermore, if a woman already had breast cancer, it is more likely that it will return in the same breast, or in the other breast, although this is then a new cancer, rather than the initial one spreading. Women of American Indian, Hispanic, and Asian descent are at less risk of developing the disease. Additionally, if a woman has had treatment for cancer near the chest, she is more likely to later develop this type of cancer as well.

In the past, women were prescribed diethylstibestrol (DES) during pregnancy to help lower the risk of miscarriage. It is now known that these women, as well as their daughters who were exposed to DES in vitro, are at an increased chance of developing it. Alcohol use also has a clear link to breast cancer. In fact, those who drink between two and five drinks daily increase their risk of developing it by 1.5. Women who are overweight and obese, particularly after menopause, also increase their chances, and particularly if they have fat deposits in the waist area.

There have been a number of studies that have shown that women who breastfeed their babies, and particularly those who breastfeed for around two years, are at a lower risk of developing the cancer. This may be because women who breastfeed menstruate less, just as they do in pregnancy. Women who started their periods before they were 12, or those who go through menopause after the age of 55, are also more likely to develop this kind of cancer. As such, there seems to be a link between menstruation and breast cancer, although what this link is has not yet been discovered.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer:

The most common symptoms are:

1. Inverted nipple

2. Nipple discharge

3. Cysts

4. Breast pain

5. Rash

6. Lumps

Treatments for Breast Cancer:

The treatments for breast cancer include:

1. Tamoxifen hormonal therapy

2. Radiotherapy

3. Chemotherapy

4. Surgery