Knowledge is Power… and It Just Might Save Your Life!

October is breast cancer awareness month in which a national annual campaign attempts to increase awareness of this disease and help people put a plan in place for early detection, which is critical to recovery.

The good news is that death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing since 1989, according to breastcancer.org. Two important factors in this decrease are early detection and increased awareness.

The bad news is that in the United States, breast cancer kills more women than any other form of cancer except lung cancer. Breast cancer is also the second most common cancer diagnosed in women, with skin cancer being the first (source: breastcancer.org).

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in every 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer.

Awareness Means Knowing …

Risk Factors

  • You’re a woman.
  • You’re white.
  • You’re overweight.
  • You started menstruating before age 12.
  • You started menopause after age 55.
  • You have not had a full-term pregnancy or had your first child after age 30.
  • You use or have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
  • You don’t exercise.
  • You drink alcohol.
  • You have low vitamin-D levels.
  • You smoke or are exposed to heavy second-hand smoke, especially postmenopausal.
  • You have dense breasts, which are 6 times more likely to develop cancer. One reason may be that mammograms have more difficulty detecting the disease in dense breasts. Dense breasts are breasts with more connective than fatty tissue.
  • You’re over age 55. Older women are at much greater risk of getting the disease because of the genetic mutations that occur with age, which are different from the gene mutations with which some women are born and which predispose them to breast cancer. Two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women over the age of 55. According to the CDC, the average age of diagnosis for women is age 61 and for men between ages 60 and 70.
  • You have first-degree female relative with the disease. Your risk of breast cancer doubles if you have a mother, sister, or daughter with the disease.
  • You are genetically predisposed. Some women inherit from a parent gene mutations that increase their chances of developing breast cancer by 45 to 65%. These breast cancers are more common in younger women.
  • You had radiation to your chest or face before age 30.
  • You have been diagnosed with certain benign breast conditions.

(Sources: breastcancer.org, CDC)

Common Warning Signs

  • Lump or thickening inside your breast or under your arm.
  • Swelling, warmth, darkening, or redness of your breast.
  • Change in size or shape of your breast or nipple.
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on your nipple.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Pain that does not subside.

Early Detection Recommendations

“Early Detection” means finding a disease before it presents symptoms. Breast cancer found during screening is usually smaller and still confined to the breast, two absolutely critical components in the prognosis of the patient.

Here is what the American Cancer Society recommends for women at average-to-moderate risk:

  • Annual mammograms starting at age 40.
  • Every-other-year mammograms beginning at age 55.

For women at high risk:

  • An MRI screening and a mammogram yearly. Both detect cancer, but one may miss a cancer the other detects.

Risk-assessment tools are designed to be used by professionals, but you can use them on your own. However, the Susan G. Komen Foundation recommends that you talk to your health-care provider so that you understand the differences in the ways the tools measure risk and what the results really mean for you.

The various risk-assessment tools and complete explanations of what they measure can be found here: https://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool/about-tool.aspx

How to Reduce Your Risks

  • Maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause.
  • Exercise at least 4 hours a week.
  • Avoid alcohol (or limit it to one drink per day), smoking, and second-hand smoke.
  • Limit exposure to radiation like X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans.
  • Studies show that women who breast feed, especially for more than a year, have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
  • Have regular mammograms.

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Posted in Community, Health
Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment