October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Get the facts

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Get the facts

Breast cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer for women in the United States, right behind lung cancer. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer according to the American Cancer Society, which means there’s a good chance somebody you know and love has been affected by the disease.

Over the last 30 years, medical science has made incredible advancements in breast cancer treatment, early detection and increased awareness, all of which have led to improved outcome rates.

Who's at risk for breast cancer?
Both women and men can develop breast cancer. Though it’s generally considered a woman’s disease, up to 2,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year.

There are several risk factors that may increase your chance of developing breast cancer. These include:

  • Gender: The female hormones estrogen and progesterone can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.
  • Age: The older you get, the more your cancer risk increases. Two out of three breast cancers are found in women over 55, while one in eight are found in women under 45.
  • Genetics: Five to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary.
  • Family history: A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer more than doubles if she has a mother, sister or daughter with cancer.
  • Race and ethnicity: Most breast cancers develop in Caucasian women, though African American women are more likely to die from the disease. 
  • Birth control: Oral contraceptives may slightly increase breast cancer risk.
  • Hormone therapy: Women who undergo hormone therapy after menopause may have a greater risk of developing breast cancer. 
  • Drinking alcohol: Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Being overweight or obese: Women who are overweight or obese after menopause have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening and detection
When breast cancer is diagnosed early, the chances of effective treatment are higher. The best ways to detect breast cancer early are through mammograms and breast self-exams.

Breast self-awareness: Forty percent of breast cancer cases are detected by women who feel a lump, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Center. If you notice any changes in your body, notify your healthcare provider.

Check your breasts on a regular basis, but also be aware of your body as you shower and get dressed. It’s then you’ll likely notice if something feels or looks different than usual. Breast self-awareness can help empower you to know your body and when you should seek medical attention.

Mammogram: A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast, and it's the main test recommended by the American Cancer Society for the early detection of breast cancer. A breast MRI is recommended for women who are at high risk for breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer have an annual mammogram from ages 45 to 54, then every other year if they are healthy. These guidelines don’t apply to women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer.

Consult your primary care physician to determine when you should begin annual breast cancer screenings.

To learn more about Goshen Center for Cancer Care and our advanced approach to cancer treatment, call our Cancer Care Help Line at (888) 492-HOPE.

Posted: 10/03/2017 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Cancer Care

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