Every year, October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as the top diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of death among women, it deserves some attention!
What Is Breast Cancer?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer affects more women than any other cancer, besides skin cancer. The World Health Organization claims that 16 percent of all female cancers are breast cancer. Susan G Komen For The Cure says, “Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow without normal control. Between 50 and 75 percent of breast cancers begin in the ducts, 10 to 15 percent begin in the lobules and a few begin in other breast tissues. Tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly. By the time a lump is large enough to feel, it may have been growing for as long as 10 years. However, some tumors are aggressive and grow much more rapidly.”
What Can I Do to Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
- Know your family history. Knowing your family’s history of cancer can also play a crucial role in prevention.
- Avoid tobacco and heavy drinking. Tobacco is one of the largest risk factors of cancer, and the most avoidable, too.
- Diet and Exercise. Monitoring your diet and getting exercise can help with overall health, as well as cancer prevention.
- Early detection can contribute to successful treatment. Educate yourself about cancer and what you can do to prevent it.
What Is Early Detection?
All women are encouraged to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month. Self-exams will help you become familiar with normal so you can know what abnormal feels like and discuss the abnormalities with your physician. Regular mammograms (X-rays of the breast) can also contribute to the early detection of breast cancer. Women 40 years and older should schedule a mammogram every one to two years. If you’re under 40, your physician can discuss when the appropriate time to begin screenings is.
Did You Know?
Breast cancer affects men, too. Statistics show that survival rates between men and women are comparable, depending on the time of diagnosis however, men are much less likely to report symptoms, so they’re typically diagnosed at a later stage.