This October we remember our loved ones who fought—or are still fighting—their way through breast cancer. We celebrate the triumph of those who are in remission. We celebrate the memory of those who are no longer with us. We celebrate the victories of those who keep enduring. We wear pink proudly! But hopefully, each time we don a tiny pink ribbon, we remember ourselves and commit to taking care of our own bodies, our own breasts.
The Truth Of The Matter
The truth is breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. It is the number one invasive cancer; in fact, this year, more than 250,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Over 40,000 of those diagnosed are projected to die as a result of breast cancer. While these statistics are staggering, there is still hope! Because breast cancer is much more likely to result in successful treatments when it is diagnosed early. The length and aggression of treatments will lessen the earlier breast cancer is detected. You play a key role in early detection which is why it’s important to fully understand the risks and symptoms.
Breast Cancer Risks
- Age - At age 70, the risk of breast cancer increases 3.4%.
- Genetics - You are at a higher risk if a close relative has, or had, breast cancer.
- Dense Breast Tissue - Cancer cells are more likely to develop in dense breast tissue.
- History of Breast Cancer/Lumps - Previous diagnosis of breast cancer or even benign (non-cancerous) lumps puts you at a higher risk.
- Increased Estrogen Exposure - Higher risk may be associated with women who have more exposure to estrogen due to the number of periods they have across a lifetime, the amount of birth control they consume, and the later they start menopause.
- Alcohol Consumption - Consuming three or more alcoholic beverages a day results in a women being 1.5 times more likely to get breast cancer.
Symptoms You Can’t Ignore
The most obvious symptom is an area of the breast that is thicker than normal, or a lump that has formed in the breast or armpit. However, there are symptoms that are less obvious but should still be taken seriously. These include:
- Breast tenderness/pain that doesn’t coincide with your period
- A rash on or around the nipple
- A discharge from the nipple, often including blood
- Flakiness on the skin of the breast
- A redness around the breast
- The shape or size of the breast has changed
- The nipple has inverted
Some of these symptoms are difficult to detect or may not be noticed right away if regular breast examinations are avoided. You may also discover a lump in your breast that is not cancerous. However, do not hesitate to call your doctor and have your breast examined if you show any of these symptoms or are at high risk for diagnosis.
At home, you can check your breasts for abnormalities by using the pads of your fingers to move across your breast in a circular motion. Check the area across your chest and into your armpit as well. You’ll be the first to detect lumps or abnormalities if you perform this breast examination on a regular basis.
It is also important to schedule a screening at The Woman’s Clinic where our skilled team of doctors can utilize resources such as ultrasounds, mammograms, and biopsies to detect breast cancer early. In fact, we are the first private practice in the area to offer 3D mammograms which gives us a clearer picture and better results. Make a commitment today to take care of you and your breasts. As you put on that pink ribbon, make an appointment to visit us at The Woman’s Clinic.