Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is caused by a growth of abnormal cells in the breast which may cause a tumor (lump in breast).  There are actually different types of breast cancer with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive carcinoma being the most common types, while phyllodes tumors and angiosarcoma are the less common types.1

Breast Cancer Facts

  • Breast cancer is the most common type of among women around the world
  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime
  • There are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
  • There are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

Source: National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., 2020

Signs and Symptoms

  • swelling of all or part of the breast
  • skin irritation or dimpling
  • breast pain
  • nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • a lump in the underarm area

Source: Breastcancer.org, 2020

Image from Know Your Lemons

Methods of Detection

Self-breast exam

While research has “not shown a clear benefit of regular physical breast exams done by either a health professional (clinical breast exams) or by women themselves (breast self-exams),” women should continue to do a self-breast exam to detect any changes in the breast.4


Images from National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Mammograms

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and can detect cancer years before symptoms occur.

Three-dimensional [3D] Mammography (Digital Breast Tomosynthesis) is a newer type of mammogram that finds more types of breast cancer and is beneficial for women with denser breast.

What are the mammogram recommendations?

Age RangeAnnuallyEvery Two Years
Women ages 40-44XN/A
Women ages 45-54XN/A
Women 55 and olderAnnually OR Every Two Years

Risk Factors

Like other chronic diseases, there are factors that increases a person’s susceptibility of developing breast cancer. Those factors include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Genetic mutations
  • Reproductive history (starting menstrual cycle before 12 and beginning menopause after 55)
  • History of breast cancer
  • Previous use of radiation
  • Being inactive
  • Being overweight
  • Over consumption of alcohol
  • Diet

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018

Prevention


Picture by BreakingPic from Pexels

There are risk factors that you do have control over that may lower your risk of developing cancer.

Exercise

Being overweight increases your chances of developing cancer. Regularly exercising and being physically active may reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Diet

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of cancer.  However, more research is needed to determine which foods provide the most benefits.

Avoid Alcohol

There is a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. For women who do drink, they should not have more than 1 alcoholic drink per day.6

In honor of all those who have died from breast cancer, and all the survivors, let’s do our part by educating ourselves and those around us about cancer prevention and early detection.

Resources:

American Cancer Society

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Sources:

American Cancer Society. (2019). What is breast cancer? Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/what-is-breast-cancer.html.           

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. (2020). Breast Cancer Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts#:~:text=Breast%20cancer%20is%20the%20most,survivors%20in%20the%20United%20States..

Breastcancer.org. (2020). Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms.

American Cancer Society. (2020). American Cancer Society Recommendations for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/american-cancer-society-recommendations-for-the-early-detection-of-breast-cancer.html.

American Cancer Society. (2020). Mammogram Basics. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/mammogram-basics.html.

American Cancer Society. (2020). Can I Lower My Risk of Breast Cancer? Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/risk-and-prevention/can-i-lower-my-risk.html.

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