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Breast Cancer and Hormones

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According to the Hormone Foundation, breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that a woman can have. You are more likely to have cancer if:

You started your cycle before 12 years of age
Reached menopause after 55 years of age
Are an older woman
Had babies after 30
Had hormone therapy (estrogen and progestin) more than five years

Scientists don’t exactly know what causes breast cancer, but they do know that your genes and hormones have a lot to do with it. In regards to hormones, estrogen (a female hormone) and progestin (a synthetic form of female hormones) cause breast tissue to grow. Consequently, cancer forms in fast-growing tissue.

The best way to try to prevent cancer is being proactive. In other words, do your monthly breast exam and do schedule for your annual breast exam at your doctor’s. Even though insurance agencies would have you to do differently, at the time of this writing, medical professionals still recommend getting an annual mammogram if you are 40 years old and older. If you are 40 years old or younger and have a family history of breast cancer, it is recommended that you obtain an annual mammogram as well.

When you’re performing your monthly breast exam, what are you exactly looking for? There can be several signs. Signs include anything from a lump that was not previously there or that has changed consistency (some of us have lumpy, noncancerous breasts naturally), changes in the size of your breast, dimpling and puckering breast skin, and/or nipple discharge.

If any of the above is happening, it would be advisable to consult with your physician. She will definitely order a mammogram, and if needed a breast ultrasound, a fine needed aspirate (sample of lump cells) or even a core biopsy (sample of lump tissue).

What can you expect from treatment? According to the Hormone Foundation, treatment really depends on the type and stage of the cancer that is presenting. Common forms of treatment would be surgery, for removal; radiation therapy, for cancer cell destruction and shrinkage; chemotherapy, for stopping continued cell growth; and/or hormone therapy (tamoxifen or raloxifene).

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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