Every eighth woman affected: How to recognize the signs of breast cancer
Created: 01/16/2023 11:27 am
By: Carolin Gehrmann
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.
Every eighth woman receives this diagnosis.
The disease is easily curable - if you recognize it in time.
Therefore, one should know the signs well.
Bremen – With around 30 percent of all cancer cases, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Germany.
Around 69,000 times a year, doctors diagnose a woman with breast cancer.
This means that around one in eight people will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
But men can get breast cancer too.
However, they only account for about one percent of cases, reports
Life expectancy with breast cancer has been increasing steadily for decades
However, the prospects for patients who develop metastases from breast cancer are relatively good: Even though breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, it is not the most dangerous type of cancer.
If recognized in time and breast cancer treatment started in good time, most diseases can be cured, as the
German Cancer Society (DKG)
In addition, the death rate has been steadily declining for decades.
On the one hand, this positive development has to do with improved early detection, which is why tumors are detected at an early stage that is still easily treatable, but also with advances in treatment.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in young women between the ages of 30 and 44
Although younger women are affected less frequently overall, breast cancer
is the most common type of cancer in the age group between 30 and 44 years according to the cancer registry of the
Robert Koch Institute (RKI) .
The risk of breast cancer is particularly high for women over the age of 50.
It is highest between the ages of 65 and 69.
After that it goes down again.
The insidious thing about breast cancer is that it often does not cause any clear symptoms for a long time.
Also, by the time a tumor is palpable, it has reached a size of one to two centimeters, depending on where it is located.
Women over the age of 25 should still examine themselves regularly and see a doctor at the first warning sign.
The importance of breast cancer screening should not be underestimated.
These signs can be early warning signs of breast cancer
The first symptom that indicates breast cancer is usually a lump in the breast or armpit.
This is often even felt by the women themselves.
But there are a number of other signs that require clarification by a specialist, as they could be indications of cancer.
A breast has changed in
size, shape and location
skin of a breast has changed
or there is unclear
breast skin bulges
outward or looks like it is being
leaks from the nipple
Nodular masses or hardening
in the breast or armpit.
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The causes of breast cancer are mostly unclear – but there are risk factors
The exact causes for the development of breast cancer are often unclear.
However, scientific studies have shown some factors that increase the risk of developing the disease.
The most important of these is age.
Because the probability of getting sick increases with age.
The statutory health insurance companies therefore offer women between the ages of 50 and 69 the opportunity to take part in the mammography screening program.
The breast is examined every two years using X-ray technology in order to be able to detect tumors and their precursors in the breast tissue.
Regular check-ups enable early detection of breast cancer - and thus better chances of recovery.
© Practice of Radiology - Neuroradiology - Dr.
Topcu & Colleagues
Hormonal fluctuations as a risk factor for breast cancer
In addition to age, there are a number of other factors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
These include in particular hormonal influences, especially the female sex hormones estrogen and progestin play a major role.
The longer a woman is exposed to the monthly cycle-related hormone fluctuations in her life, the higher her risk of developing breast cancer.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, an early first menstrual period and a late onset of menopause increase the risk of breast cancer.
Women who have given birth to children and who breastfeed them as far as possible have a lower risk than childless women.
Hormone replacement therapy during menopause can also increase the risk of breast cancer, especially if it lasts longer and takes a combination of estrogen and progestin.
Taking the "pill" for contraception also increases the risk of breast cancer, but in comparison it is significantly lower.
Predisposition and personal lifestyle increase the risk of breast cancer
Just like age, genetic predisposition is a risk factor over which women have no control.
If a first-degree relative, i.e. mother or sister, has already had a malignant breast tumor, then your own risk is also increased.
About a quarter of patients with a family history have risk genes that can trigger breast cancer.
Changes in the genes BRCA1 (BReast-CAncer-1) and BRCA2 (BReast-CAncer-2) are among those that have been known for some time.
Around 50 to 80 percent of women with this
develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
However, the chances of recovery and survival are steadily improving, especially if breast cancer is diagnosed early.
Those who know their personal risk may also take advantage of regular check-ups, thereby increasing their chances of successful breast cancer treatment.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer – avoid alcohol consumption and smoking if possible
Personal lifestyle, on the other hand, can be changed relatively easily and the personal risk can be reduced.
Because just like with all other types of cancer, it has an unfavorable effect if you smoke and do little exercise.
Obesity also increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
According to the medical organization
, women who are physically active for 30 to 60 minutes a day have a 20 to 25 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who do little exercise.
It is also advisable not to smoke and to reduce alcohol consumption.
The upper limit for women is one glass of wine a day.
A balanced diet is also important to reduce your personal risk of breast cancer - just like it is the case for many other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
A lot has improved in the treatment of breast cancer – this is how the treatment works
Much has improved over time in the treatment of breast cancer.
The therapy has not only become more effective, but also gentler and, above all, more effective.
This has significantly improved the prognosis for the patients.
"In all stages, the chance of survival after ten years is on average 80 percent," explains oncologist Olaf Ortmann, President of the German Cancer Society to
If breast cancer is diagnosed early and is still less than two centimeters small, even more than 90 percent of those affected are still alive after 15 years.
The three most common therapies used to treat breast cancer are:
In many cases, chemotherapy can even be dispensed with when treating breast cancer with drugs.
This is possible, for example, when the cancer is still in a very early stage.
However, breast tumors are often hormone-sensitive, which means that the hormones estrogen or progesterone drive the growth of the tumour.
In this case, therapy with anti-hormonal drugs that block the hormones is an option.
Breast cancer can often be treated successfully over long periods, with only a few side effects.
Breast cancer surgery is much gentler than it used to be – the breast is preserved as much as possible
Breast surgeries to remove tumors are now less radical than they used to be.
Doctors today avoid amputations of the breast and the removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit whenever possible.
"The goal is to operate breast-conserving," says oncologist Ortmann to
The affected breast is removed in only 20 percent of patients suffering from breast cancer.
It used to affect more than half of the sick women.