Approximately 19.4 million South African women over the age of 15 are at risk of developing breast cancer at some stage in their life. As a result, it has been identified as being the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among women in the country. However, early detection and an awareness of symptoms and risk factors can significantly improve treatment outcomes.
Causes of breast cancer
When breast cells grow abnormally, they will start to divide at a more rapid pace than healthy cells and grow to become a lump or a mass. Once this happens, breast cancer occurs. The cancer will typically develop in the milk-producing ducts, which is called invasive ductal carcinoma. There are various factors that could increase one’s risk of developing breast cancer, such as lifestyle, hormonal, and environmental factors. Certain genes can also pose as risk factors to develop inherited breast cancer. Doctors believe that 5% to 10% of breast cancers can be attributed to gene mutations that have been passed on through family.
Breast cancer risk factors
There are several risk factors that might increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will certainly develop this type of cancer. Here are some of the risk factors:
- Women are more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
- As you age, your risk increases of developing breast cancer.
- If you’ve previously had breast cancer in one breast, you have a higher risk of developing cancer in the other breast.
- You are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer if you have a family history. If your mother, sister, or daughter have previously been diagnosed, especially at a younger age, your risk factor will be higher.
- Giving birth to your first child after the age of 30.
- Alcohol consumption has also been linked to developing breast cancer.
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