October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed every October to raise awareness about the most common cancer among women — breast cancer. One of the initiatives of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to educate everyone on what the symptoms are, the stages of breast cancer are and the different treatment options that may be available to you in the event that you are in need of them.

Breast Cancer Statistics

  • About 1 in 8 of U.S. women are going to develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime
  • About 1 in 833 men will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women.
  • About 30% of all newly diagnosed cancers in women are breast cancer
  • There are more than 4 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. This includes those who are currently being treated and those who have completed treatment

Symptoms

Getting a regularly scheduled breast exam with your doctor is important. This will monitor and detect any potentially cancerous cells through Mammograms. Mammograms are recommended to start regularly getting once you hit 40. Although breast cancer can develop at any age, that’s why it is important to understand any symptoms you may start to spot / feel by doing a breast exam at home. Below is a list of some of the most common symptoms of breast cancer.

Lump
A hard mass felt around the breast with irregular edges. But be careful, breast cancers can also feel soft, tender and painful. Please consult your doctor immediately if you feel anything unusual.

Swelling

Swollen lymph nodes (small lumps of tissue that contain white blood cells, which fight infection) under the arm

Nipple retraction

Breast Pain

Stages

To put it simply, breast cancer stages are determined by how large a cancer is and whether or not it has hormone receptors.

Stage 0
This stage of breast cancer is considered non-invasive breast cancer. There are no cancer cells breaking out of the breast in the area in which they’ve started to develop.

Stage 1
This stage is where the cancerous cells (or tumor) have started to spread to nearby tissue in a small area

Stage 2
Cells / tumor is between 20 – 50mm and some lymph nodes are involved OR a tumor is present that is larger than 50mm but no lymph nodes are involved.

Stage 3
Tumor is larger than 50mm with more lymph nodes present in a wider area. At this stage the cancer may have spread to the skin or chest wall.

Stage 4
Cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body.

Treatment

Treatment for breast cancer is not guaranteed but it is available. Depending on the stage of cancer you’re in, there are different treatment options:

Chemotherapy
Involves using medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy
Rays similar to x-rays are used to kill the cancer cells.

Biological Therapy
This works with the body’s immune system to fight the cancer.

Hormonal Therapy
It blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to to grow.

Surgery
An operation where doctors go in and remove the cancer.

More information can be found on these links below:
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-cancer-signs-and-symptoms.htm
https://www.breastcancer.org/facts-statistics
https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/treatment.htm