Breast Cancer: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Risks, and Preventative Measures

According to a recent report, the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally is breast cancer as of 2021. It accounts for 12% of all new annual cancer cases worldwide. It is also estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers this year 2022. What are the causes, signs, symptoms, and preventative measures of breast cancer? Read this article as we explain the most common causes, signs, symptoms, risks, and ways how you can prevent this condition. 

What is Breast Cancer?

Cancer develops when there occurs genetic damage that the body is unable to repair. They usually develop from abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms inside the cells of the breasts. It is the second most common cancer after skin cancer and the second most frequent cause of death after lung cancer.

This condition affects mostly women, but there are some cases where men can get breast cancer as well. The American Cancer Society stated that most breast lumps are benign and not malignant or cancerous. Benign breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they don’t spread and multiply outside of the breast. However, it is important to let your doctor check for any breast lump or change to find out if it is benign or malignant because it might affect your future cancer risk.

Breast cancer starts from various parts of the breast such as lobules, ducts, nipples, stroma, blood vessels, and lymph vessels. There are different kinds of breast cancers such as lobular cancers, ductal cancers, phyllodes tumors, and angiosarcoma. Also, some cancers start in other tissues in the breast such as sarcomas and lymphomas. 

Then, breast cancer spreads when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymphatic system and are transported to other body parts. Our lymphatic system is an essential part of the immune system of our body. If they have spread to the lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that the cells could have traveled through the lymphatic system and spread or metastasized to other parts of the body.

Common Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Studies have shown that only about 1 in 10 breast cancers or about 10% are associated with abnormal genes that are passed on or inherited from parents. Most breast cancers develop acquired gene changes that still have not yet been discovered. There are common causes, signs, and symptoms of this condition. Take note of the following information:


  • Hormonal factors (increased levels of estrogen and progesterone)
  • Lifestyle factors (excessive alcohol drinking, overweight or obese, breast implants, etc.)
  • Environmental factors
  • Inherited gene mutations


  • Change in the size, shape, or appearance of a breast
  • A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • A newly inverted nipple
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
  • Peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
  • Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange

Breast Cancer Risks and Preventative Measures

It is very crucial for women to know the potential risks of getting breast cancer, and to learn and understand more about the preventative measures that you can do so that you will not develop this condition. Below are the common factors linked with an increased risk of breast cancer and the preventative measures:


  • Age 55 and older
  • Being born female
  • Hereditary (Inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene)
  • Certain benign breast conditions (fibrosis, mild hyperplasia, fat necrosis, duct ectasia, proliferative lesions, etc.)
  • Early menstrual periods (before age 12)
  • Late menopause (after age 55)
  • Radiation therapy to the chest 
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES)
  • Birth control methods (oral contraceptives, birth control shots, birth control implants, etc.)
  • Menopausal hormone therapy (Combined hormone therapy (HT), Bioidentical hormone therapy, Estrogen therapy (ET)) 


  • Eating high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, bright-colored vegetables, and purple veggies and fruits like blueberries. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight or BMI
  • Moderate to vigorous physical activity (Adults: At least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week or a combination)
  • Good sleep 
  • Avoid or limit stress
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Breastfeeding at least several months after childbirth
  • Genetic counseling and testing for breast cancer risk
  • Medicines to lower breast cancer risk (Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, and Aromatase inhibitors)
  • Frequent doctor visits for breast exams and ongoing risk assessment (every 6-12 months)
  • Breast cancer screening with yearly mammograms at a younger age
  • Breast MRI for screening
  • Preventive or prophylactic surgery


Having well-informed about breast cancer is the most effective way to regain control and restore order in a situation that probably feels chaotic and disruptive. It will also guide you to interact with your medical team with confidence and set various decisions that breast cancer requires. Thus, learning and understanding the common causes, signs, symptoms, risks, and preventative measures for breast cancer help you to find it early and when it is likely to be easier to treat and manage.