It seems as though every month there’s something to be aware of. This month is no different.
I bet you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but did you know that it’s also Down Syndrome Awareness, and National Spina Bifida Awareness Month, to name a few? Actually, in October alone, there are over 30 days, weeks or months of some type of “awareness”.
Today, though, let’s talk about breast cancer. I know it’s not a fun subject, and society has made it a somewhat taboo conversation, but talking about it could save lives.
What you need to KNOW–
According to breastcancer.org,
- About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12.4%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
- In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
- Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
- About 40,920 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
- Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2017, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
- In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than Caucasian women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower.
- About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
And, did you know that…
About 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2018? A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. You need to be on the look-out for symptoms for the most common breast cancers, which include:
- a breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different than surrounding tissue and has developed recently
- breast pain
- red, pitted skin over your entire breast
- swelling in all or part of your breast
- a nipple discharge other than breast milk
- bloody discharge from your nipple
- peeling, scaling, or flaking of skin on your nipple or breast
- a sudden, unexplained change in the shape or size of your breast
- inverted nipple
- changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts
- a lump or swelling under your arm
What you need to DO–
- Don’t freak out. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s not necessarily a sign of breast cancer. However, it’s crucial that you…
- Make an appointment with your doctor. More than likely you will be advised to…
- Ultrasound. A breast ultrasound creates a picture of the tissues deep in your breast. An ultrasound is an excellent way to help your doctor distinguish between a solid mass, such as a tumor, and a benign cyst. Also, they’re safer than mammograms
- Get a MAMMOGRAM—A mammogram is a fantastic way to see what’s going on. For most women, beginning at the age 40, mammograms are an annual thing. If your doctor is suspicious of anything, they may request a mammogram. That said, there are some negatives you should be aware of making ultrasounds a better option.
The advances in treatment and prevention, especially early prevention, have skyrocketed in the last few decades. Lumps don’t mean death. Cancer doesn’t even mean death anymore. There’s a lot to be said about awareness. Being aware is knowledge. And, knowledge is power.
On a personal note, I lost my mom just a couple of years ago to breast cancer. She was just 51. Susan Andrews adopted a scared little boy and showed him what the love of God looks like. I love you, mom. I miss you.