Posted on October 09 2016
Breast Cancer Awareness and Early Detection By Team ATPB
Dear Pretty Bird,
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and we just wanted to leave you a note to remind you to schedule this year’s screening if you haven’t done so already, to share a little info about breast cancer if you aren’t familiar with the disease, and to share some helpful links so that you can stay informed about the illness.
As per the overview provided by the Mayo Clinic, breast cancer is the cancer that forms in the breast. The disease is the second most diagnosed cancer in women after skin cancer. While there is still a lot of work to be done in fighting the disease, survival rates are increasing and the number of deaths are decreasing. This positive trend can be attributed to early detection, custom tailored treatment plans and an overall better understanding of the illness.
The cause of breast cancer is not clear, and according to the Mayo Clinic, “It’s likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of your genetic makeup and your environment.”
The website goes on to address Inherited Breast Cancer and the role of muted genes that cause cancer such as the BRCA1, BRCA2 genes which significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) lists the following risk factors for breast cancer.
– Getting older
– Genetic mutations, BRCA1 and BRCA2
– Early menstrual period
– Late or no pregnancy
– Starting menopause after age 55
– Not being physically active
– Being overweight or obese after menopause
– Having dense breasts
– Using combination hormone therapy
– Taking oral contraceptives
– Personal history of breast cancer
– Personal history of certain non-cancerous breast diseases
– Family history of breast cancer
– Previous treatment using radiation therapy
– Women who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was given to some pregnant women in the United States between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, have a higher risk. Women whose mothers took DES while pregnant with them are also at risk.
– Drinking alcohol
According to the CDC, some symptoms of breast cancer include:
– New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
– Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
– Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
– Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
– Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
– Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
– Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
– Pain in any area of the breast
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult with your physician or make an appointment at a local clinic where you can be thoroughly tested. The American Cancer Society provides these guidelines for screening:
– Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
– Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
– Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
– Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
– All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
We wanted to provide this info here to inform you about breast cancer and to encourage you to complete regular screenings, and to have a dialogue about the illness with your physician who can better answer questions and directly address your concerns. Most of the articles we read emphasize the benefits of early detection and regular screenings. Please share this post with your friends and family so that they can also take action in maintaining their breast health.
Other helpful Breast Cancer resource sites include:
National Breast Cancer Foundation
World Health Organization World Cancer Research Fund
And fellow Black women please read “Black Women and Breast Cancer Survival Rate” in Allure Magazine. The article discusses the fact that “Black women in the U.S. are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age—and their risk of dying from the disease is 42 percent higher.”