Breast Cancer Awareness
Every year the world goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Many of us will take part in walks, runs and cycles to raise money for breast cancer charities and research. For some, it’s because they are breast cancer survivors. Others support breast cancer awareness because they know someone who was affected. Everyone knows their chance or a loved one’s chance of developing the disease in the future is very high.
The Hard Facts
In the USA, Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in all people. It is also the second leading cause of deaths in women. The facts don’t stop there:
- 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer.
- 1 in 1000 men will develop breast cancer.
- Approximately 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in 2015.
- About 60,290 new cases non-invasive were diagnosed in the same year.
- Deaths from breast cancer have decreased each year since 1989. It’s estimated that 40,290 women in the USA died from breast cancer in 2015.
- Caucasian women are most likely to develop breast cancer though black women are most likely to die from the disease.
- 5% to 10% of all breast cancers are caused by inherited gene mutations.
- 85% of sufferers will have no family history.
- The biggest risk factors are being a woman and aging.
Breast Cancer Types
Breast cancers fall in to two categories – invasive and non-invasive:
- DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ)– a non-invasive cancer that starts in the milk duct and does not spread to other parts of the body
- LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma In Situ) – this is not a cancer but rather a warning sign for a future invasive breast cancer. LCIS is an overgrowth of cells which remain in the lobules.
- IDC (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) – the most common form of breast cancer. This cancer starts in the milk ducts and spreads to other parts of the breast and/or body.
Signs & Symptoms
Most people know that a breast lump is a sign of breast cancer. However, a lump may not always be present and there are many indicators of breast cancer:
- A lump in the armpit
- Fluid discharge or bleeding from the nipple
- Redness, irritated, scaly or dimpled breast skin
- Nipple pain, thickening of the nipple or nipple inversion
- Swelling of all or part of the breast
- Breast pain
Prevention & Treatment
As always, prevention is better than a cure. However, if breast cancer does develop, early detection is key. If caught early enough, breast cancer survival rates can be high. There are also a number of treatments available for breast cancer.
A change in lifestyle can help protect some people from developing breast cancer. Throughout her life, there are a number of other things a person can do to stay healthy:
- Limit alcohol to one drink a day or less.
- Do not smoke.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a diet high in fruit and vegetable and low in saturated fat and sugar.
- Maintain a healthy weigh and avoid obesity.
- If taking hormone therapy for menopause, limit the length of time you continue to receive treatments.
- If you give birth, breast feed for as long as you can.
- Avoid environmental hazards and radiation e.g. x-rays.
- Know what your breasts look like normally. Regularly check for lumps in your breast and the surrounding breast tissue and armpits.
- Women aged 45 to 54 should go for yearly mammograms.
- For women over the age of 54, a mammogram is recommended every two years.
The treatment a person receives will depend on the type of breast cancer they have.
- Surgery is often the first step. Usually a patient will need to choose between a lumpectomy to remove the tumor and some breast tissue or a mastectomy which is the removal of all the breast tissue.
- Chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery. Chemo is also used during early stage invasive breast cancers to destroy any cancer cells and during late stage cancer in attempt to destroy or damage cancer cells.
- Hormone therapy is effective in treating some types of breast cancer. Hormone therapies reduce the level of estrogen in the body and prevent estrogen from attacking the breast tissue
During the recovery period a patient may experience some side effects such as:
- Chest Pain
- Dry skin
- Trouble breathing
- Dry mouth
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Hair loss
- Weight changes
If you want more information about breast cancer or related services, we highly recommend breastcancer.org and nationalbreastcancer.org. Both sites have lots of information, advice and support for those fighting breast cancer and for their family and friends.
Feeling better about your health or fitness shouldn’t be a chore. If you ever need some extra support, come by BEFIT to speak with one of our trainers or simply fill out a Free Consultation Request by clicking the link and a fitness professional will reach out to you within 24 hours.
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