Knowing about the risk factors of developing breast cancer in Dubai can help you benefit with certain preventive strategies.
12 November 2020| Last updated on 15 November 2020
One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women in the United Arab Emirates, and globally.
But do you know that you may have a more than average risk of developing breast cancer? Do you know what may be placing you at this increased risk, and are you aware of how to mitigate these risks?
Estimating breast cancer risk for an individual is difficult, and most cancers are not attributable to risk factors other than female gender and increasing age. Therefore, population screening and preventative measures for early detection are needed. Imaging, in addition to a clinical breast exam, is an integral part of breast cancer screening and detection.
What factors increases risk of breast cancer?
According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and for a woman without a personal history of breast cancer, there are several areas that can contribute to increased breast cancer risk. These include:
- Familial and genetic factors
- Socioeconomic level
- Reproductive history
- Lifestyle factors
- Prior breast biopsies especially those yielding atypia
- Breast density
Rarer causes such as chest irradiation prior to age of 30 for other medical diseases such as lymphoma can also increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
What are some of the tools available for us to estimate one's risk of developing breast cancer?
Estimating your breast cancer risk begins with a consultation with your doctor, with detailed assessment of your family history of breast and other forms of cancer, as well as other possible risk factors. These clinical factors are entered into several mathematical models, which are available for estimation of individual breast cancer risk. Each model has its strengths and limitations.
The most commonly used clinical models are the Gail model and the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study (IBIS) models.
Short-term risk assessment tools, such as the Gail model, help women and their doctors decide if additional screening beyond a yearly mammogram is needed.
Longer-term risk assessment tools help women and their doctors make decisions about other preventive strategies, such as taking medicine to reduce breast cancer risk, genetic counselling/testing which may lead to surgery to remove the healthy breasts, and possibly the ovaries, for example, if one carries the BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutation.
What are the risk factors groups? How does this affect my breast cancer screening?
The American College of Radiology (ACR) Committee on Standards and Guidelines published appropriateness criteria for performance of screening studies for certain risk groups, which include average risk (< 15% lifetime risk of breast cancer), intermediate risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk of breast cancer), and high risk categories (20% or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer).
What happens when I find out what risk group I belong to?
If you know that you have a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer, you and your doctor will develop a screening plan tailored to your personal situation. General recommended screening guidelines include:
- a monthly breast self-exam
- a yearly breast exam by your doctor
- a digital mammogram every year starting at age 40
- genetic counselling
Your personal screening plan also may include:
- breast MRI
- breast ultrasound if you have dense breasts
Some lifestyle choices you may want to consider to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer include:
- maintaining a healthy weight
- exercising regularly
- limiting or avoiding alcohol
- eating a healthy diet that’s low in processed foods, sugar, and trans fats
- not smoking
Talk to your doctor about developing a specialized program for early detection that meets your individual needs, and empower yourself and others to achieve a world without breast cancer.
For appointments or more information on the unique all-women led breast centre team at Mediclinic City Hospital, click here.