Breast Cancer Awareness: Educate and Empower Yourself

Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Breast cancer diagnosis is scary, and it’s one we hope you’ll never have to face.  Learn your family’s history as well as the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and empower yourself– early detection is key.

This year, an estimated 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Facts and Statistics:

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • About 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2011.
  • About 39,520 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2011 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990 — especially in women under 50. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 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.
  • The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Early Detection:

According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:

  • swelling of all or part of the breast
  • skin irritation or dimpling
  • breast pain
  • nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • a lump in the underarm area

A breast exam should be a part of your monthly routine.  Doing the self-exam each month will help you identify changes or new lumps within the breast tissue.

If you’re over the age of 40, it is recommended you undergo a yearly mammogram.  If you cannot afford one, call the Susan G. Komen foundation at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) to help find low-cost options in your area

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the higher rate of survival.  Don’t wait.