October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to discuss this topic because more awareness needs to be shed on women’s health and the diseases that affect them and men. Both women and men are so important to our communities and families, and it’s our responsibility to help take care of ourselves, as well as the men in our lives, the same way they take care of us.
So, in this post I am going to attempt to answer the following questions: (1.) What is it? (2.) Who does it affect? (3.) How is it caused? (4.) What are the risk factors?(5.) How is it treated? (6.) Can it be prevented? Now, let’s begin:
* My source is the American Cancer Society website (www.cancer.org) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) which are reliable sources.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.
There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. The most common kinds of breast cancer are:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma. The cancer cells grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
Who does it affect?
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 11% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age. However. it’s possible for men to get breast cancer too. Most men who get breast cancer are over 60.
How is it Caused?
No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA, but why or how that DNA becomes damaged is still unknown.
What are the risk factors?
There are certain established risk factors that are associated with breast cancer, see below:
- Genetic factors, which are factors that cannot be changed (age, gender, race. family history, etc.)
- Environmental factors
- Lifestyle Choices (being overweight, drug and alcohol use, diet, etc.)
How is it Treated?
In general, there are five treatment options, and most treatment plans include a combination of the following: surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. Some are local, targeting just the area around the tumor. Others are systemic, targeting your whole body with cancer fighting agents.
It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs.
Can Breast Cancer be Prevented?
Research shows that lifestyle changes can decrease the risk of breast cancer, even in women at high risk. To lower your risk:
- Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation — based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk — is to limit yourself to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.
- Don’t smoke. Evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.
- Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
- Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
- Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
- Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with nonhormonal therapies and medications. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you and continue to have your doctor monitor the length of time you’re taking hormones.
- Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and cumulative exposure to radiation over your lifetime. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.
Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.
*Source- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov) and American Cancer Society website (www.cancer.org)
For more information you can also visit www.cdc.gov or www.cancer.org
Please check out my shop page (JAccessories) to purchase Breast Cancer Awareness bracelets -pink or hot pink colored accessories (paracord bracelet, cord bracelet, or charm bracelet) today. Half of the proceeds from a purchase made will be donated to the American Cancer Society. Until next time remember that Life Is But A Journey….