Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer is a disease in which the cells in the breast grow out of control. With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S affecting women. This cancer can develop in different parts of the breast such as the lobules, connective tissue, or ducts. Most cases of breast cancer start in the ducts or the lobules. It can spread from the breast to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes and blood vessels. Once that occurs, the cancer has metastasized.
The symptoms of breast cancer can present themselves in various ways for different individuals. For some, they won’t have signs or symptoms at all. Some of the major warning signs include:
- A new lump in the armpit (underarm) or breast
- Thickening or swelling of a part of the breast
- Redness or flaky skin on the breast or nipple area
- Any change in the shape or size of the breast
It should be noted, however that these symptoms can occur with other medical conditions that are not cancerous.
The main risk factors of breast cancer are being a woman and getting older. Nonetheless, there are cases of men being diagnosed with this disease. If an individual has a risk factor, it does not mean that they will get the ailment. If you have any of the breast cancer risk factors listed below, then you should talk with a health care professional on how to lower your risk. There are some factors that you cannot change and others that can. Those that cannot be changed are comprised of:
- Getting older
- Genetic mutations
- Having dense breasts
- Reproductive history
- Family history of breast cancer
Factors that can be changed are:
- Lack of physical activity
- Taking hormones
- Being overweight or obese after menopause
- Drinking alcohol
- Reproductive history
Studies suggest that other factors like exposure to carcinogens, smoking, and certain hormones can also increase someone’s breast cancer risk. The trend of breast cancer in recent years has the rates of new cancers going down, however the annual number of cases have gone up. The number of deaths due to breast cancer have decline, but remain the second leading cause of cancer for women in the United States.
Each year in over 247,000 cases of breast cancer, about 41,000 women and 460 men die from this disease. It is important to stay diligent with your health. If you have any signs/ symptoms that are worrisome, be sure to consult a medical professional right away.