October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and more than anything, we care about the health and well-being of our patients. That’s why we’ve put together this post with important information from the experts.
According to breastcancer.org, “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It is estimated that in 2022, approximately 30% of all new women's cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer.”
Almost everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer or has lost someone to breast cancer. According to breastcancer.org, “breast cancer affects one in eight women in the United States every year and 2.3 million women worldwide”. About 30% of early-stage breast cancers eventually metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
While women are the majority of these cases, men can also develop breast cancer. That’s why everyone is encouraged to check themselves regularly and learn the early warning signs.
Early Signs of Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
Swelling of all or part of the breast
Skin irritation or dimpling
Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
Nipple discharge other than breast milk
A lump in the underarm area
Although breast cancer symptoms vary widely, many breast cancers have no obvious signs at all. That’s why regular screening and check-ups are so important!
Risk Factors for Developing Breast Cancer
Genetics and lifestyle both play a role in whether or not someone develops breast cancer. And while we don’t know exactly what causes it, we do know that some risk factors can be minimized with lifestyle changes.
Genetic Risk Factors:
Gender - Women are 100x more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
Age - The majority of women diagnosed are over 55.
Obesity - Being overweight puts both men and women at higher risk.
Family History - If an immediate family member has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Your risk increases if your relative was diagnosed before the age of 50.
Personal History - If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast.
Reproductive History - Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can also increase your risk for breast cancer.
Genome Changes - Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase your risk for breast cancer.
Dense Breast Tissue - Having dense breast tissue can increase your risk for breast cancer and make lumps harder to detect.
Lifestyle & Environmental Factors:
Physical Activity - Avoid a sedentary lifestyle and aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to decrease your risk for breast cancer.
Diet - Eating a balanced diet with lots of whole food is important. Avoid saturated fat and sugar to help reduce inflammation and stay within a healthy weight range.
Weight - Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for breast cancer. Your risk is increased if you have already gone through menopause.
Alcohol Consumption - Frequent alcohol use contributes to your risk, and the more you drink, the higher your risk becomes. .
Radiation - Having radiation to the chest before the age of 30 can increase your risk for breast cancer.
Detecting Breast Cancer Early
Regular monthly breast self-exams, a yearly exam by your doctor, and annual mammograms are essential factors in breast cancer detection - especially early detection, when cancers may be more treatable.
So, set a reminder to check yourself today, schedule those doctor's appointments, and make sure you’re doing everything you can to limit your risks of developing breast cancer by knowing the facts.