Breast Cancer Awareness

365 Days Of The Year

“Breast Cancer has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live”

– Angelina Joliester

Awareness 365 

The beginning of October signals the start of many things…the feeling of autumn, fall decorations, Halloween traditions, and most importantly Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Oranges and browns are not the only colors you’ll see during the month of October; It’s likely you’ll come across bright pink t-shirts, shoes, ribbons, headbands, and more.  The bright pink amongst the typical autumn colors is to honor Breast Cancer supporters, survivors, contributors, and overall awareness.

As this October comes to a close, it’s important to note that Breast Cancer Awareness should be in focus all year round. Thanks to the efforts of many foundations, medical professionals, supporters, and survivors, increased awareness has saved many lives.

 

 What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer is a broad term used to describe abnormal cells that begin and grow in various parts of the breast. These abnormal cells invade healthy cells and can spread outside of the breast to surrounding tissue/s. Breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body is referred to as “metastasized”.  There are several kinds of breast cancer that can affect various regions of the breast however, most cancer cells begin in the breast ducts (milk carrying tubes) or lobules (glands that produce milk).

 

Development of Breast Cancer

We still don’t know the specific cause of breast cancer or why one person is diagnosed over another.  We do however know some risk factors and how cancer begins.

To put it as simply, cancer is caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. Once the DNA is damaged, the cell becomes mutated. Since cells are the building blocks of tissue, you can imagine how mutated cells can cause major complications. Cell build up can occur which often leads to a mass of tissue known as a tumor. When a malignant tumor develops in the breast, it needs to be treated as quickly as possible before any cells break away from the tumor and spread to other tissue.

Risk Factors Within Your Control

 

Physical Activity

Maintaining the minimum recommended amount of physical activity vs living a sedentary lifestyle.

Weight Management

Consistently maintaining a healthy weight vs becoming overweight or obese.

Hormone Therapy

Some forms of hormone replacement therapy and certain birth controls have been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. 

Reproductive History

Women having a child after the age of 30 or never having a full-term pregnancy, can increase the risk of breast cancers.

Alcohol Consumption

Studies show the more alcohol you consume, the more your risk of developing breast cancer increases. 

Risk Factors Beyond

Your Control

 

Aging

The risk of developing breast cancer increases in age; the majority of women are diagnosed with breast cancer after the age of 50. 

Genetic Mutations

Mutations of certain genes inherited from your ancestors can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Dense Breast Tissue

Dense breasts have more tissues which can lead to an increased risk and make it difficult to detect tumors. 

Family History

If you have a mother, sister, daughter, or multiple family members diagnosed with breast cancer, you are at an increased risk.

Previous Diagnosis

Women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer are at a higher risk to be diagnosed a second time.

Be Aware Of The Symptoms

There are early warning signs and symptoms to help women self-detect breast cancer early on.

– A new lump or mass in the breast or near your armpit area.

 – Feeling a thickening or swelling in a part your breast.

– An irritation or dimpling of the skin around breast skin.

– Any redness or flaky skin near your nipple area or around your breast.

– A decompression of your nipple or pain in the nipple area.

– Any discharge from your nipple other than breast milk.

– A noticeable change in the size or the shape of your breast.

– Pain in any area of your breast.

 

Diagnosis

If you feel you’re at an elevated risk for developing breast cancer, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

Likewise, if you feel you are experiencing any early warning signs or symptoms, you should also speak with your doctor.

The need for a breast cancer biopsy can be determined with several medical tests including:

A Mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and there are two types; screening and diagnostic. A screening mammogram is a routine exam administered to women with no symptoms. A diagnostic mammogram is completed if there is an elevated suspicion of breast cancer. 

Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to paint a picture of what’s going on inside the breast. 

MRI

If other tests are inconclusive or to evaluate the extent of the disease, your doctor may recommend an MRI of your breast (magnetic Resonance Imaging).

What Is A Biopsy?

A breast biopsy removes tissue or fluid from a suspicious area in order to exam the cells under a microscope.  This is the only procedure that can determine if there are cancer cells present.

Early Detection

According to the American Cancer Society,  the survival rate is 99% when breast cancer is detected early.

Early detection methods include:

– Completing your own monthly breast exams

– Controlling risk factors within your control

– Staying aware and monitoring any early warning signs 

– Scheduling and staying up to date on all your clinical breast exams and mammogram screenings

– Talking to your doctor and documenting any known risk factors out of your control which may require more frequent exams 

In Summary

Make it a priority to learn more about breast cancer, control your risks, and regularly complete all required checkups including self-exams.

Make a commitment this October to honor breast cancer all year long and help educate your friends and family members as well.

Have a Question?

Reach out today!