October is National Breast Cancer Month and this post is dedicated to increasing your awareness of this disease and educating yourselves on the risk. The more we know and the more we are informed, the more we can make better decisions about our health and our bodies. So please spread the word, talk about breast cancer and take active measures to prevent this disease. Encourage your aunts, cousins, sisters, moms, grandmothers, etc who are over 50 to get a mammogram. (Don't forget that men get breast cancer as well). Most importantly, take active steps to ensure that they do get regular breast screenings by joining them to their doctor's appointment. Be supportive.
Statistics from the United States show:
- 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.
- 39,840 women were expected to die from breast cancer in 2010. This is despite a decrease in breast cancer deaths since 1990.
- the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. Women is breast cancer.
- About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer, which means that 70-80% of some women who develop breast cancer, do not have a family history.
- The most significant risk factor for developing breast cancer is being a women and age (growing older).
Women of color, especially African Americans are disproportionately affected by breast cancer. They are more likely to develop this disease and more likely to die from it.
Over the recent years, there has been decreases in breast cancer deaths, as result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness. In fact, in 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
What should you be doing?
- If you are over 50, don't forget to take your yearly mammogram screening. If its time to take one, let the month of October be the month that encourages you to do so.
- If you're in your 20s or 30s and do not have known breast cancer risk factors, a clinical breast exam by a health professional should be part of your regular health exam once every three years.
- If you detect any changes in your breasts, you must contact your health care provider immediately.
- Monthly self breast exams are also important to detect any changes with your breasts.
- For those of us who are younger than 50, make sure that you are performing self-breast exams.
- Most importantly, take the time to think of other cancers and diseases that are just as deadly to you and others around you and look up the facts about them. Be proactive!
***And remember that screenings and tests won't prevent breast cancer or other forms of cancer from developing, but if it is found in its early stages, the chances of overcoming it can be high.