Breast Cancer After Childbirth: Is It Common? | Woombie

Having a baby is a life-changing event. However, your body goes through some incredible changes during pregnancy and childbirth, and sometimes those changes can come with unexpected side effects. One of the things that can happen after you have a baby is that you may develop breast cancer. While it's not necessarily typical, it is something to be aware of, especially if you have any family history of the disease. 


This blog post will explore what causes breast cancer after childbirth and how you can best protect yourself against it.


Breast cancer is common in women

Breast cancer continues to affect a large portion of the worldwide female population. The American Cancer Society estimates that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Women are encouraged to remain informed and note potential warning signs such as changes in breast size or shape, pain or tenderness, skin irritation, and unusual discharge. 


Early detection is critical to early intervention and increases the likelihood of successful treatment outcomes. The earlier breast cancer stages can usually be treated without any major surgery. Moreover, regular self-exams are also encouraged by medical professionals as they can help individuals become familiar with the typical patterns of their bodies and alert them to abnormalities if they occur.


The risk of developing breast cancer after childbirth is very low

Childbirth can take an immense physical toll on the body, and new mothers often have many questions and concerns about their overall well-being. One of the most common worries is the potential for developing breast cancer in the future. Fortunately, this risk is very low. 


Studies have consistently shown no significant increase in the risk of getting breast cancer for women with children compared to those without. Some research has indicated that having children might actually provide a defense against breast cancer. With such reassuring facts, new mothers need not fear the long-term effects childbirth may potentially have on their health.


Risk factors

Women who have recently given birth should be aware of the potential risk factors for developing breast cancer post-partum. A family history of the disease is enough to put new mothers at higher risk, and being obese is another primary consideration that can increase their vulnerability. Family history means that a woman's mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother has had breast cancer, which could potentially put her at greater risk for developing the disease. 


On the other hand, obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing a number of cancers, including breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is one-way women who have recently given birth can reduce their chances of getting the disease.


It's important to stay vigilant on any abnormalities such as unusual lumps and changes in size, color, or shape of the breasts so that women can detect any issues early and get timely medical treatment if needed. Taking proactive steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle, such as maintaining an optimal weight and staying physically active, is also crucial since these measures can help reduce their chances of breast cancer and other health benefits. Furthermore, it is essential to note that being pregnant does not mean that you cannot develop breast cancer. It is simply less likely than in non-pregnant women.


Things you can do to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer after childbirth

Developing breast cancer after childbirth is a severe concern for many new mothers, but there are several steps one can take to reduce the risk. Breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months can help protect against breast cancer, as research has shown that it increases the production of hormones that battle this type of cancer. Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer, which is an essential step for new mothers. If you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, consider discussing other measures you can take with your healthcare provider.


Keeping your weight within recommended ranges and maintaining an active lifestyle with regular exercise is also incredibly important. It boosts immunity while strengthening bones, muscles, and organs that pregnancy can otherwise affect. If you are not fond of exercising, try to incorporate small changes into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk with your family after meals.


Finally, it is crucial always to be aware of any changes in your breasts and perform regular self-exams so that you can detect any irregularities at an early stage. This can help ensure that any cancerous cells can be seen and treated before they spread. Putting these practices into action may not guarantee an individual's immunity from developing breast cancer, but it's one of the best ways to reduce the risk of its development.


Treatment options

Being diagnosed with breast cancer after childbirth can be daunting, but medical practitioners will often collaborate to develop a personalized plan for treatment. From researching your type and stage of cancer to exploring treatment options such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and more. You are never alone. The kind of treatment and duration depends on your diagnosis, but medical care can be tailored to meet the needs of new mothers trying to balance their health with caring for an infant. For instance, some treatments can be administered while breastfeeding, and many physicians are willing to work with patient schedules to accommodate lifestyle and parenting needs.


In addition, treatments such as targeted therapies may be recommended to target the specific genetic markers found in certain types of cancer. These therapies can help destroy cancer cells while limiting the damage to healthy tissue, making them an ideal choice for new mothers. Various support systems are available simultaneously, like patient counseling services, so you do not have to go through this journey alone. 


There are also online and in-person support groups that can provide additional emotional support to help patients cope. With these options available, it is possible to fight breast cancer and move forward in life feeling empowered.


While the risk of developing breast cancer after childbirth is low, several factors can increase your risk. There are also several things you can do to reduce your risk. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer after childbirth, many treatment options can be tailored to your specific situation. So while it is a scary and challenging time, there are resources available to help you through the journey.