DCIS is not based on age
Health professionals and health-centered people tend to go on and on about not increasing your risk of cancer by participating in risky behavior. They talk about how dangerous smoking is and how they should eat right less they get sick. These are all fair points. In fact, they are right. Many carcinogens in this world can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. There is also risky behavior like going out in the sun without sunblock. Cancer is, however, not limited to carcinogens. There are people who kind of have cancer lingering in their genes. This does not mean that they will get it. It says that they are more likely to get it.
The result is that people can get cancer at any age. They can also get DCIS at any age. If a woman is diagnosed after the age of 40, then it is quite surprising that they do not have an increased risk of developing cancer again. It is younger women who are at risk. These women have generally prescribed a more rigorous treatment protocol so that they can try to avoid developing cancer again in the future.
Risk factors are risk factors
Following on from the previous point, some people are more likely to develop cancer. There are times when these reasons have to do with lifestyles choices, but there are also a lot of factors that have nothing to do with how a person lives their life. There are times when people may develop cancer because of things that are entirely out of their control. These can include things like hitting puberty early or even starting menopause late. Then there are things like having a child after the age of 30 or not having children at all.
The body can be a very complicated thing and when it comes to cancer one cannot presume that it is the patient’s fault. Genes and biology, in general, do not always work in a woman’s favor. When it comes to DCIS, the risk factors that exist for it are the same as the risk factors that exist for other breast cancers. No one can tell what kind of breast cancer a woman is likely to get. They can say what the risk is, but they won’t know the type of cancer. This is unfair and unfortunate, but it is also, unfortunately, the way that it is.
But, lifestyle does matter
You are what you eat. There may have been a time when this statement was well-meaning, but it has unfortunately now become a saying that is used to body shame women. People say it in the hopes of guilting women into eating foods that are only non-fat and suitable for people who are on wildly restrictive diets. This is an awful precedent that has been set because the saying itself does have validity. The fact of the matter is that when you eat unhealthily then, the chances are you will be unhealthy you put junk in your body then it is going to break down. Maybe not today or even tomorrow. But, it probably is going to happen.
The same goes for DCIS. While your genes and biological makeup do play a role, some things will increase your risk. These come in the form of lifestyle choices. If you drink a lot of alcohol, then your risk is heightened and not just for DCIS, but for other more invasive breast cancers as well. If you are maintaining an unhealthy weight, then your risk increased. The point is that if you are healthy, then you should stay healthy.
Breastfeeding may still be possible
One cannot imagine what it is like for a woman to lose her breasts. Breasts are not just something that has been overly sexualized. They are a part of a woman’s body. She watches them grow. She feels them ache when she is menstruating. They represent a very real connection to what it is to be a woman. They are the things that she will go on to feed her child with. They are objects of femininity and nourishment. To not be able to breastfeed your child because they have been taken away is like being stabbed directly in the heart.
Luckily, however, DCIS does not mean that a woman will lose her breasts and it does not say that she will not be able to breastfeed when she does want children. Granted this is not with all cases. But, if a woman has only had surgery to remove cancer, then she should be able to produce milk and breastfeed. If, however, she has had radiation and chemotherapy, then a fertility doctor should be consulted with. The point is that there is always hope. A DCIS diagnosis does not mean that breastfeeding is impossible.