October 1, 2019 - Health & Wellness
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Understand the Facts
You probably already know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But did you know that according to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, there are 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer each year? And 41,760 deaths?
From 1989 to 2015, the breast cancer mortality rate decreased by 39%. That decrease is in part due to increasing awareness about the disease, encouraging early detection, and the incredible medical advancements in treatment and prevention.
So how can you support breast cancer awareness? Find out about local events, fundraisers, walks, and benefits this month that support breast cancer. Also, do your part to understand the causes and symptoms of breast cancer so that you can become an advocate in spreading awareness and helping with early detection. You can make a difference!
Breast Cancer Causes and Symptoms
According to BreastCancer.org, women who regularly get screened for breast cancer have a 47% lower risk of dying from the disease than those who don’t get routine mammograms. Routine screenings should be done every year for women ages 45 to 54. Between regular check-ups, it’s important to know the symptoms of breast cancer and do monthly self-exams.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
While breast cancer can be different for every person because of the various types and stages, below are some of the most common breast cancer symptoms you should be aware of:
- Breast pain
- A breast lump or thick tissue that feels different and has developed since your last check-up
- Red, pitted skin over your breast
- Swelling in part or all of your breast
- Nipple discharge other than breastmilk
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
- Peeling, flaking skin on the breast
- Sudden changes in the shape or size of your breast
- Inverted nipple
- Lump or swelling under the arm
If you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. It is just a clear indication that you need to visit a doctor and get further testing. Don’t ever ignore your symptoms or let them linger for long periods of time. Early detection is key.
Breast Cancer Causes
Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, although it is much more common in women. The majority of cases happen in women over the age of 40 years old.
What doctors do know about the cause of breast cancer is that it occurs when breast cells begin to grow abnormally. Cells divide rapidly and continue to accumulate, eventually forming a lump or mass. Most often, this begins with the cells in the milk-producing ducts or the glandular tissue in the breast.
The Mayo Clinic also suggests that genetics can also play a role in the development of breast cancer, with about 5% – 10% of cases being caused by a gene mutation that is passed through generations of family.
Some other common risk factors include:
- Gender – females are much more likely to develop breast cancer
- Increasing age
- Personal history of breast issues or cancer
- Inherited familial genes
- Radiation exposure
- Starting your menstruation cycle at an early age
- Never having children or having them late in life
- Drinking alcohol
Again, the best prevention method is getting routine breast cancer screenings and doing self-exams between visits. While awareness can’t prevent breast cancer from happening, it can aid in early detection, which can lead to much more positive outcomes. Do your part for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and spread the word.
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