October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an opportunity to learn more about breast cancer and to contribute to finding a cure.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a group of abnormal cells that begin in the breast and often spread to other parts of the body. When cells grow incorrectly and group together, a growth is formed called a tumor. If a cancerous tumor in the breast is not caught early on, the cancer can spread through blood or lymph vessels.
One in eight women develop breast cancer, and although men are rarely diagnosed with breast cancer, it is possible. The good news is that there has been a decline in breast cancer rates and in breast cancer related deaths as more research is done on prevention and treatment.
How can it be detected/prevented?
There isn’t much you can do to prevent cancer, but there are several things you can do to detect it while it is still in its earliest stages.
– Know your risk factors. One of the most common risk factors for developing breast cancer is family history. If any of your family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be more at risk to develop it yourself. Age is also a risk factor. Women over age 55 are more likely to develop breast cancer.
– Perform a self-exam once a month to determine whether there are any changes or lumps in the breasts.
– Get a mammogram. A mammogram is a type of x-ray that allows your doctor to check for any abnormalities in your breast tissue. Most doctors recommend women over the age of 40 to have a mammogram every one to two years. Mammograms are usually able to detect abnormal cells before they can be felt.
Keep your body healthy
There are a few practical things you can do to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
How can you contribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
– Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer and how to detect them, and then share your knowledge with those around you.