Health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We raise our pink ribbons for October, and it is high time we talk about breast cancer even more. Breast cancer awareness should not be simply a one-month per year talking point though. The United States needs a constant cognition of the condition, its pervasiveness, and the seriousness it should be to all of us. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer and the risk of 1 in 38 women will likely fatally suffer from it. Over 41,000 women died from breast cancer last year in 2019 alone.

But wait, you are a man and you are writing about breast cancer? First, good observation. Second, while breast cancer is typically thought of just affecting women, even men get breast cancer. While they account for only one percent of breast cancer issues in this country, about 2,000 new cases arise in men each year with an estimated 400 deaths resulting, according to Susan G. Komen research.

In Indiana, there were about 4,636 total cases of pervasive breast cancer in 2016 alone. This number is seen increasing each year by the state, as well. Currently, there are more than 3 million breast cancer survivors in this country, but they all needed to get diagnosed and treated first.

A regular call for breast cancer often leads to more screening for the condition. People have better treatment results due to early diagnosis and when there is more information available to them. So, what are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

The signs and symptoms

Women should know how their individual breasts look and feel, so they can watch out for any changes in their bodies, including:

  • Lump(s) or thickening in the breast or underarm tissues
  • Change in size and shape of the breast
  • Redness and swelling of the breast
  • Itchiness
  • Dimpling or puckering of the nipple and breast skin
  • Consistent breast pain
  • Bloody or clear white discharge from the nipple

Risk factors of breast cancer

Women who have family members diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of the condition as well. Having susceptible cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) are also thought to increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer, as well as does:

  • Obesity
  • Radiation exposure
  • Increasing age
  • Starting your period early or late
  • Taking postmenopausal hormone therapy
  • Inherited genes and family history
  • Taking drugs and drinking too much alcohol.

To lower the risk of breast cancer, staying healthy in general and balancing food intake is advised. Getting physically active will also help stay in shape while regulating certain hormones as well. Even getting a good night’s sleep allows the body to properly rest and recover because, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, even those who simply have poor sleep have an increased risk of the condition.

Take a breast exam and get tested now

The Susan G. Komen organization recommends women — and men alike — get tested through breast cancer screening. Do you know why you need to get tested now though? Simply, the sooner it is diagnosed, the better the chances for earlier and successful treatment.

Take a self-exam for breast cancer awareness

Women may take a self-examination by inspecting their breasts regularly for any changes. If there are changes or lumps in the body, you may talk to your doctor about it. When taking a self-exam, remember to feel for any lumps around the breasts and underarm areas too.

Ask your doctor about getting screened

Talk to your doctor about getting a breast cancer screening exam. Relay to him or her whether you have a family history of breast cancer or any lifestyle changes that can increase the likelihood of getting cancer. Whether you opted for a clinical breast exam or a mammogram, together you can decide what is beneficial for your health.

Choose a healthy diet

Some research suggests that women who eat unhealthy foods increase their likelihood of getting breast cancer. Focus your diet on plant-based foods, such as nuts and legumes, green leafy vegetables, omega-3 rich foods, and whole grains, many experts say. What is more, foods rich in antioxidants may combat body toxins that overly oxidize cells, thus, lowering your risks for breast cancer, it is thought.

Exercise regularly

Get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day to combat all sorts of health issues — and breast cancer too. Some studies show that exercise is one of the most simple yet effective cancer prevention methods. Women who have Stage 2 breast cancer have found that aerobic and resistance exercises improved their overall health. Other studies have shown that exercise reduced tumor growth in certain cases. Exercise will not cure cancer, nor guarantee you will not ever experience it, but being healthy and physically-fit certainly helps place you in a much better position.

Sleep regularly

Not getting enough sleep does not let your body get its well-deserved break. Moreover, disruptions in your circadian rhythm increase the odds of breast cancer, experts think. Exposure to light will also reduce the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone, and this lack of sleep increases the likelihood of cancerous growth. When your body does not fully recover from sleep, your immune system will be likely weakened too.

Susan G. Komen Central Indiana

The Susan G. Komen raises awareness and education for breast cancer. Through research and community engagement, they give back hope to members and cancer survivors to push forward.

About 56% of their research is geared towards effective treatments and assistance services. Did you know that nearly 40,000 treatments are carried out in a single year alone in Indiana? The organization also looks for better tools to diagnose and treat breast cancer, they say. They have already carried out 212, 324 screenings and made 41,695 diagnosis in a year.

Want to take part in their campaigns? Join 370,000 advocates fighting for breast cancer and take part in their events that heighten the awareness for breast cancer screening. For example, the group held its 2020 Komen Central Indiana Virtual MORE THAN PINK Walk where they encouraged participants to walk at their own pace and in their own community – simply anywhere and anytime — on the said date. Last October 10th, the organization raised about $316,219.81 to support breast cancer patients, providing them a strong and supportive place in the community.

So, become involved. Watch out for more of their events soon and be sure to take part in spreading the word about breast cancer screenings to your family and other loved ones.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

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