Breast Cancer; two words that evoke emotional distress. Although we hear these words daily in the news, they have a new impact when they touch us, or our family members. They prompt many questions, “Why me?” and “How did this happen?”
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The National Breast Cancer Foundation defines breast cancer as a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. It is considered a heterogeneous disease – differing by individual, age group, and even kinds of cells within the tumors themselves.
Risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age: Half of all women diagnosed are over age 65.
- Weight: Being obese or overweight.
- Diet & Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity, a diet high in saturated fat, and alcoholic intake of more than two drinks per day.
- Menstrual & Reproductive History: Early menstruation or late menopause, having your first child at an older age or not having given birth, or taking birth control pills for more than ten years if you are under 35.
- Family & Personal History: A family history of breast cancer—particularly a mother, sister. or a personal history of breast cancer of benign (non-cancer) breast disease.
- Medical & Other Factors: Dense breast tissue (often identified by a mammogram), past radiation therapy to the breast or chest area. A history of hormone treatments—such as estrogen and progesterone, or gene changes— including BRCA1, BRCA2, and others.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) educates women about the importance of early detection for breast cancer. Since NBCAM’s inception, mammography use has doubled, and breast cancer death rates have declined. Still, many women do not utilize mammography at regular intervals. In recognition of the fact that mammography is the best available method of detecting breast changes that may be cancer, long before physical symptoms can be seen or felt, and that breast cancer deaths could decline further if all women age 40 and older received mammograms at regular intervals.
Don’t let yourself be a victim of misinformation and the myths generated by fear. The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers Breast Cancer Myths, a helpful tool to assist in your understanding of this life changing disease.
Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, millions of women are surviving breast cancer today. Whether you’re worried about developing breast cancer, making decisions about treatment, or trying to stay well after treatment, The American Cancer Society offers a Detailed Guide, Overview, and other materials to help you navigate this new path.
Although the words breast cancer evokes emotional distress, there are resourses to help answer the many questions that arise. No women wants to receive this diagnosis, but hearing the words “breast cancer” doesn’t always mean an end. It can be the beginning of learning how to fight, getting the facts and finding hope.
For more information:
American Cancer Society
4240 Park Place Court
Glen Allen, VA 23060
Did you find this article informative? Receive email alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the “Subscribe” button above.