October is the month to wear pink. Men, women, athletes, celebrities and more are spreading awareness throughout the month of October for Breast Cancer by sporting pink attire and the pink breast cancer ribbon. Though wearing pink is an effective method of raising awareness for this disease, it’s important to understand the facts of breast cancer in order to reduce your risk, as well.
According to the American Cancer Society, the estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2016 are:
- “About 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.”
- “About 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).”
- “About 40,450 women will die from breast cancer.”
Not only is breast cancer a deadly disease, but it is also the most common cancer among American women, save for skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
According to BreastCancer.org, “death rates have been decreasing since 1989.” This is largely due to the advanced treatment options available, screenings, and raising awareness for the disease. Thus, it is important still today to raise awareness for the issue – the more men and women who become aware, the more screenings and early detection there may be.
Signs and Symptoms
Though the majority of breast cancer patients are women, men have and can develop the cancer as well. There are many symptoms of breast cancer, and it is possible not to develop any symptoms when you have it. However, it’s important to understand and be on the look-out in the event that you or someone you know displays any of these symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state that “Symptoms can include any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), and a new lump in the breast or underarm. If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.”
Reducing Your Risk
In addition to being on the look-out for these symptoms, it’s important and recommended that one should get a mammogram screening every two years following the age of 50. These tests help with early detection of the cancer, allowing you to get treatment more quickly.
Healthy habits, though do not prevent breast cancer, can help reduce your risk. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. provides healthy habits that can lower your risk, including:
- “Maintain a healthy weight”
- “Stay physically active”
- “Eat fruits and vegetables”
- “Do not smoke”
- “Limit alcohol consumption”
These healthy lifestyle habits are important to improving your body’s strength, immune system, and potentially reducing your risk of developing cancer.
Factors that affect your risk for getting breast cancer include age (if you’re above age 50), gender (if you’re a woman), and breast gene mutations (a mutation of BRCA1 or BRACA2). If you have one or more of these factors, your risk of developing breast cancer is higher, which means maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and paying attention to signs and symptoms are very important.
Breast Cancer cannot be prevented, but with proper education, awareness, and proactive measures, one can reduce their risk. Though a larger percent of occurrences are in women over 50, if you notice an abnormality, it’s important to contact your doctor right away. Proper screenings can save lives, so don’t ignore your symptoms no matter what age or gender you may be.
So this month, wear pink. But more than that, raise awareness for breast cancer signs and symptoms, while encouraging your friends, family, and neighbors to make healthy lifestyle choices and get regular screenings to reduce their risk as much as possible.
On Saturday, October 22nd, the East Shore YMCA will be hosting a Breast Cancer Fundraiser Move-A-Thon with all donations going towards Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as part of the American Cancer Society. This event features a variety of fitness classes for the community, along with raffle tickets for sale for a chance to win baskets and other prizes! If you’re free, please come out and support this great cause.
–Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator