The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports that each year an estimated 220,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 die. While the number of breast cancer related deaths have decreased in the past 20 years, the number of women diagnosed remains high. One in eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and it continues to be the second leading cause of death among women. While there is still no cure for cancer, awareness and early detection prove to be helpful in increasing the likelihood of extending life and even survival.
Educate, Inform, & Inspire
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all women, young and old, should know how to perform self exams, a helpful tool in early detection. Additionally, women can help by educating other women in their lives, such as family, friends, and co-workers, on the benefits of early breast cancer detection. While self exams should be performed regularly and year round, take the time this October to inspire and educate those around you.
Who is Most at Risk?
Unfortunately, breast cancer is not preventable and some women are prone to developing it over others. However, there are lifestyle habits (or changes) that can help you reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Remember, whether you are in your 20’s or in your 70’s, it’s never too late to change your lifestyle. According to the Mayo Health Clinic, here are some ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Limit alcohol consumption and don’t smoke tobacco
- Lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and stay physically active
- Breast feed your infants
- Limit your duration of hormone therapy
- Avoid environmental pollution and radiation
While lifestyle habits can greatly affect your chances of developing breast cancer, your chance may be linked to your genes. Risk factors may vary from woman to woman, but self-exams and mammograms can be integral detection tools.
Breast self-exams are a self-checkup that women do in the comfort of their own homes. Although it’s not completely accurate, it is free and can help to save a woman’s life. Many women struggle with being comfortable performing a self-exam, but with regularity women should be able to notice changes and report them to her doctor. A breast self-exam is easy to do, but should not be compared to anyone else’s as all breasts are different. One woman may have normal “lumpy” breast tissue while another may have none. If you are hesitant to “get to know your breasts” talk with your doctor or with a friend; it’s time to take charge of your health.
Self-exams are also important because your breasts could change a lot between annual checkups and the time your reach the age of mammograms. Many older women talk about the “dreaded” mammogram, but it’s an important tool in detecting any changes within the breast that could indicate breast cancer. Mammograms are scheduled for women who are over the age of 40.
Another great way to monitor your breast health and reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer is have a honest and open discussion with your doctor.
Matt Rhoney is an avid reader on trending topics and a writer in his spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina you will usually find him catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach surfing, kayaking or paddle boarding. He loves to write pieces on health, fitness, and wellness, but often writes about families and safety.