Breast Cancer: Risk Factors and Physical Examination


Breast cancer is a malignant form of the breast and is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. This type of cancer occurs when breast cells begin to divide uncontrollably and spread to the surrounding tissues. As a result, a tumor is formed, which becomes possible to detect by palpation of the breast or through mammography. As with all other types, it is very difficult to identify the true cause of breast cancer. In breast cancer, early detection of the disease and the beginning of treatment are extremely important. At an early stage of breast cancer, the chances of a cure may be the highest. If breast cancer has already spread to other organs, earlier detection of the disease allows patients to discuss the situation with doctors, make an individual plan, and potentially achieve better treatment results. Therefore, in this context, it is important to identify the risk factors, the overall presentation, and the results of the physical examination of breast cancer.

Risk factors and common presentation

As already mentioned, it is almost impossible to determine the true nature of breast cancer. However, there are several risk factors that include gender, age and aging, estrogen, genetic mutation, unhealthy lifestyle, and family history (Sun et al., 2017). In this vein, scientists identify two genes that are most associated with the occurrence and spread of breast cancer. Thus, the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are known anti-oncogenes of breast cancer risk and encode tumor suppressor proteins (Sun et al., 2017). The deficiency of these genes leads to a violation of the regulation of the cell cycle, genetic instability, and, finally, apoptosis. Also, the risk of breast cancer increases significantly if a person inherits a mutation in one of these genes. In addition to genetic mutation and heredity, aging also plays an important role in cancer risk factors. According to research, about 99.3% of all deaths caused by breast cancer in the United States were detected in women over the age of 40 (Sun et al., 2017, p. 1390). Finally, an unhealthy lifestyle, including excessive consumption of fat, alcohol, and tobacco, is also a risk factor.

Physical exam findings

The results of a physical examination of breast cancer should include an analysis of all risk factors and their impact on patients. In this context, when examining the patient, particular attention is paid to age, menopausal status, pregnancy cases, as well as the use of hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives (Akram et al., 2017). Moreover, doctors study in detail both the patient’s personal history and family history in order to more accurately determine the level of risk. Family history usually includes a detailed study of the history of such types of cancer, such as ovarian and breast cancer, in the next of kin. Finally, the doctor performs a physical examination of the chest, collarbone, neck, and armpits, as well as the lymph nodes, which usually have an enlarged appearance in breast cancer.

American Cancer Society guidelines

For a more detailed analysis of this problem, it is important to refer to certain guidelines for the detection and control of breast cancer. In this context, the American Cancer Society’s guideline for early detection of cancer suggests that screening tests can detect the presence of breast cancer even before the patient has the first symptoms. According to these recommendations, women over the age of 40 should conduct an annual breast cancer screening and receive a mammogram if necessary (American Cancer Society, 2020). Moreover, every woman should be aware of the potential health risks associated with screening. Finally, women should be able to independently inspect their breasts for any irregularities or bulges.


In conclusion, cancer is a dangerous and deadly disease whose nature is still unknown to the scientific community. In this context, breast cancer is strictly gender-specific and threatens the health of every woman. It is becoming critical to determine which factors pose the greatest risk to women. Moreover, awareness in this area plays a key role since cancer can be detected at the earliest stages.


Akram, M., Iqbal, M., Daniyal, M., & Khan, A. U. (2017). Awareness and current knowledge of breast cancer. Biological Research, 50(1), 1-23.

American Cancer Society. (2020). American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. Web.

Sun, Y. S., Zhao, Z., Yang, Z. N., Xu, F., Lu, H. J., Zhu, Z. Y., Shi, W., Jiang, J., Yao, P. P., & Zhu, H. P. (2017). Risk factors and preventions of breast cancer. International Journal of Biological Sciences, 13(11), 1387-1397.

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