Tag Archives: breast cancer

Breast Cancer: What Are The Symptoms? By Dr. Drai

Hi #GYNEGirls! It’s America’s OBGYN- Dr. Drai. I have been SOOO BUSY! Running around THESE 8 offices, catching babies, doing surgeries in 2 different hospitals, and still tweaking it in media interviews. #DrDraiMedicalT #MediaPersonality #TwerkSumn LOL!  Dr. Drai has more “Medical T” to spill on breast cancer. We chatted about the BRCA gene and Risk Factors for developing breast cancer. Now #GYNEGirls I need YOU to know what to look for on your TaTas. But FIRST let’s review your BOOB anatomy.


The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickening#GYNEGirls-A lump felt in your armpit is most worrisome. A lump that does not change in the way it feels is a sign of breast cancer. It may be hard, not movable, or have irregular borders.

Other signs are swelling, puckering or dimpling, redness, or soreness of the skin. Your nipple may change shape, become crusty, or have bloody discharge. Although early breast cancers are usually painless #GYNEGirls, any pain or tenderness that lasts throughout the menstrual cycle should also be reported to your DOC. Don’t wait!

Don’t forget to tell your #GENT (or #GYNEGirl) to read this blog. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate; it can affect ANYONE. Dr. Drai wants you to REMEMBER the signs and symptoms to look for! #BOOBCheck #SaveTheTaTas Until next time…


Dr. Drai Breaks Down Your Risks For Breast Cancer

Last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Yeah… SuzyKnew! is late with this one. Not only that – a dubious milestone was achieved: the incidence of breast cancer among black women became equal to that of white women, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society. Previously, breast cancer occurred at a lower rate among Black women. For more on breast cancer and black women see The Sisters Network, Inc.

Below Dr. Drai breaks down the risk factors for breast cancer. Straight – no chaser.


Breast cancer affects more American women than any other cancer, except skin cancer. It’s also the deadliest cancer for women after lung cancer. Let’s review your risk.


Age 40 or older – The risk for breast cancer increases as a woman ages. Most breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50; the risk is especially high for women over 55.

Family history – The risk of getting breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister or daughter has had the disease. The risk increases if the relative’s cancer developed before menopause or if it affected both breasts.

About 5-10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary due to genetic mutations in the BRCA 1 or 2 genes. There is a blood test available to see if you have this genetic difference. Women who have inherited one of these mutations are at risk for developing other cancers, especially ovarian cancer. There are other gene mutations that can lead to inherited breast cancers, but are much rarer.

Personal history – Women who have had breast cancer are at high risk for developing the disease again. There are also benign breast (glandular or ductal) conditions that increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Race and ethnicity – African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. African-American women are more likely to be diagnosed under the age of 45.

Never given birth, or birth after 30 – Estrogen levels in the breasts of these women are higher than in women who have had children, making their risk for breast cancer slightly higher. This is because estrogen increases the rate of cell division, which increases the risk of cancer developing. Higher estrogen leads to dense breasts (less fatty tissue in breasts) as well, which can make mammograms less accurate.

Long menstrual history – Women who began menstruating at an early age (before 12) and/or having a late menopause (after 55) are slightly more at risk for breast cancer, because of the level of estrogen in their bodies. Breastfeeding and loss of menstrual cycles may have a protective effect. The use of oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera also have a slightly greater risk while using the medications, but which reverses once discontinued.

Exposures – (1) Previous Chest radiation – women who had radiation therapy to the chest for other reasons as a child or young adult are at increased risk for breast cancer. (2) Women exposed to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) in the 1940’s to 1960’s have a slightly higher risk, as do their daughters. (3) Use of combined hormone therapy (conjugated estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate) is associated with a higher risk compared to estrogen alone. (4) Women who have more than one alcoholic drink a day on a regular basis are at higher risk. (5) Smoking tobacco increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

One more thing…Breast cancer affects #GENTS too, but it’s 100 times more common among women. #GYNEGirls- know your risk AND talk to your DOC. Until next time…

ASK AN OBGYN: Does Breast Cancer Affect Women Of Color More Than White Women?

Dear SuzyKnew,

I’m a 28 year old black woman and recently someone told me that breast cancer affects women of color more than white women.  Should I be worried?


Dear Worried:

Breast cancer affects all women, but the disease affects women differently, depending on their race, socio-economic status and where they live in the world.

If you live in the U.S. (or Europe, Japan, Australia)

According to the National Cancer Institute, about one out of every eight women born today in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. Factors that can also increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer are: age, inherited changes in certain genes, a personal or family history of breast cancer, having dense breasts, beginning to menstruate before age 12, starting menopause after age 55, having a first full-term pregnancy after age 30, never having been pregnant, obesity after menopause, and alcohol use.

In the U.S., Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for black women aged 45–64 years.    Here is a shocking fact-  black women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, but black women have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer.  The death rate is 60% higher for Black women than white women.  Wow.  So what’s the story here?

 Breast cancer also tends to appear in black women at a younger age and in more advanced forms. Black women also tend to have more dense breast tissue, one of the risk factors for cancer.  Abnormalities in breast tissue are harder to see in a denser breast.  The National Cancer Institute reports that in the United States, breast cancer is diagnosed more often in white women than in African American/black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native women.  Don’t become statistic ladies!  Go get those breasts examined so any abnormalities are detected and treated early.

If you live elsewhere in the world (Africa, Asia, South America)

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing particularly in developing countries where the majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages.  Early detection and early access to treatment offers the best chance of survival.  Sadly, this is almost impossible for many women in the world.

I just read an amazing article in the New York Times about breast cancer in Uganda.  In many developing countries, women are unable to obtain treatment because of cost, transportation, availability of medicines and long waits for an appointment.   This article describes a woman seen in the waiting room of a hospital.  When the doctor passed through the room of despondent patients, this woman cried out and opened her blouse to show the doctor her ulcerated breast.  She got the doctor’s attention and received treatment that day.  The reporter writes, “It takes nerve for a patient anywhere to buttonhole a doctor and demand attention. More than nerve, it takes self-esteem and a sense of one’s rights as a patient.”

So here is a lesson from this brave woman.  We do no one a service by staying quiet.   Do not be too afraid to ask, do not be too shy to demand attention and do not put off an exam or treatment.   Extend a hand to your friends and family and advocate for them if they are unable to do so for themselves.

Regardless of where you live, your socio-economic status or race, the common denominator for all women is that the earlier the cancer is detected and treatment obtained, the greater your odds of survival.   I encourage all SuzyKnew readers to do breast self exams every month, get a clinical breast exam as part of your annual check up (when you get your PAP smear), and go get that mammogram.  If you have a strong family history of cancer or other risk factors, your doctor will have a specific plan for you.