October is breast cancer awareness month, and a good time to increase awareness of it. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and one of the leading causes of cancer death.
A woman’s risk of breast cancer is relatively higher if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Also, less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations— probably too medicy, I know.
Understanding the facts about breast cancer can help you better detect the disease early. Which is why in the spirit of awareness, we’d be talking about 9 things you should know about breast cancer in this post. Let’s dive in!
1. Regular screenings are necessary
Screening aims to find breast cancer early, when there are higher chances of getting cured. Mammograms are used in breast screening and they find cancer cells that are too little to be felt. It is important to remember that screening will not prevent you from getting breast cancer but it will find the disease early.
2. Not all breast cancers form a lump
Breast cancers often form lumps eventually, but that’s when they are huge. It’s best to find out before you can feel the lumps. This implies you need to get regular mammograms to spot cancer before a lump forms and be on the lookout for other red flags which includes: nipple discharge, pain and/or itchiness; dimpling, reddening of the skin on your breast; thickening or swelling of part of a breast; or breast pain that lasts for more than a menstrual cycle.
3. Younger women can have breast cancer
Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Although breast cancer is common in older women above 45, in rare cases it affects women under that age. While younger women are more likely to develop a type of cancer that does not respond well to treatment (triple negative breast cancer), they tend to be diagnosed at earlier stages, if they have regular screenings, which makes them easier to treat.
4. There are different types of breast cancer
Breast cancer is not just a single illness. There are various kinds of cancer that occur in different parts of the breast. They are divided into invasive and noninvasive. You can read more on them here.
5. Men can also have breast cancer
Yes, they can! While women mostly get breast cancers, men can get them too. Studies show 1 in 1000 men will be diagnosed in a lifetime, that means it’s kind of rare, but it happens. Sure, the risks are low for men, but they should also be on the lookout for the signs.
6. You can lower your risks
A healthy lifestyle plays a significant role in reducing the risks of getting breast cancer. Regular exercise, following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol consumption and smoking. Research has shown this kind of lifestyle reduces the risk of having the disease.
7. Many painful lumps are cancerous
There’s a lot of debate concerning lumps in breast cancer. While a painful lump may not necessarily mean cancer is present, most of the time, they turn out to be cancerous.
Painful lumps along other signs of breast cancer like itching, bumps, e.t.c., could mean something wrong.
8. Pain or discomfort shouldn’t stop you from getting a mammogram
Mammograms are known to be painful because each breast is squeezed and placed between two plates for the photos to be taken. While the procedure could be uncomfortable or painful for some women, it’s relatively safe.
That’s why the temporary discomfort shouldn’t stop you from getting a mammogram, they are super necessary for early detection.
9. Breast cancer is treatable
When caught early, many types of breast cancer can be cured — regardless of age.
Breast cancer is treated using a combination of: surgery, chemotherapy & radiotherapy.
Surgery is usually the first step in treatment, followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy or, in some cases, hormone or targeted treatments. The type of breast cancer would determine the type of surgery and treatment.
Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t something that just happens to older women; it also affects younger women, race and gender, so it’s important to get regular screenings as well as do self-exams so you can be aware of any changes and get help if you think something is wrong, even if you’re not old enough to get regular mammograms.
Finally, know your breasts, because obviously they are your breasts. Only you can notice if there’s anything wrong. However dear lovely, this post isn’t to scare you, it’s just to increase awareness of the disease. Happy October breast awareness month, and Always be on the lookout. ❤️
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