Breast cancer can affect anyone, no matter who they are or where they live. It is critical to understand the warning signs of breast cancer, your risk of breast cancer, and what is normal for you in order to take action if you notice any changes in your breasts or underarm areas.
Breast cancer awareness month campaigns have helped drive down mortality rates from breast cancer for more than four decades, thanks to our focus on early detection and treatment advancements. That progress, however, may be jeopardised. Many people postponed their routine breast cancer screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic hampered treatment and research.
More progress is still required. Breast cancer research has resulted in new therapies and targeted treatments that have improved outcomes for many people. It is research that gives people with this disease, particularly those with MBC, hope. We must ensure that more treatment options are available for all breast cancer patients, especially when existing treatments fail.
The COVID-19 pandemic also brought to light disparities in breast cancer treatment for underserved communities across the country and disparities in treatment between Black and white women. Black women in the United States are approximately 40% more likely than white women to die from breast cancer.
Why is Breast Cancer Awareness so Critical?
Every October, you’re probably bombarded with breast cancer information. This is a good thing. Breast cancer awareness is critical because early detection, often through screening, can catch the disease when it is most treatable.
Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). A woman in the United States has a 12% chance of developing breast cancer at some point in her life, or one in every eight. A woman’s chances of dying from breast cancer are about 2.6%, or 1 in 38.
Patients are having better outcomes as a result of earlier diagnosis, cutting-edge treatment options, and less invasive surgery. In the United States today, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors, including women who are still being treated and those who have completed treatment. A greater understanding of the disease has undoubtedly resulted in a greater number of women being screened for breast cancer. Patients have better outcomes as a result of earlier diagnosis, advanced treatment options, and less invasive surgery.
Some Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Every woman should be aware of how her breasts normally appear and feel in order to detect any changes that may occur. While knowing what to look for is important, a woman should still get regular mammograms and clinical breast exams because these tests can detect breast cancer before symptoms appear.
- Breast or underarm lump (armpit)
- Breast swelling or thickening in whole or in part
- Breast skin dimpling or irritation
- Breast pain that is localised and persistent
- Nipple or breast skin redness, scaliness, or thickening
- The discharge of the nipple (other than breast milk)
- Any change in the breast’s size or shape
Risk Factors Highlighted by Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Being a woman and getting older are both risk factors for breast cancer (most found in women ages 55 and older). Personal/family history, race, breast density, and menstrual period history are all uncontrollable risk factors. Changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) also increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Certain risk factors are associated with a person’s way of life, such as the use of birth control pills, hormone therapy after menopause, having children, drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese, and not being physically active. The presence of one or more risk factors does not guarantee that a woman will develop breast cancer. Women must become acquainted with all of the risk factors. Those over whom they have control must make wise lifestyle choices. Having this said, here are a few proven ways to lower the risk factors of breast cancer.
- Obtain and maintain a healthy weight. To avoid excessive weight gain, balance your food intake with physical activity.
- Engage in some physical activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination of these).
- Limit or avoid alcohol consumption. The American Cancer Society recommends that women limit their alcohol consumption to one drink per day.
- All women should have a risk assessment at the age of 30 to determine if screening before the age of 40 is necessary.
- Women with an average risk of breast cancer should begin screening at the age of 40.
- Women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer may benefit from additional screening with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particularly if their cancer was discovered before the age of 50.
The Final Words
Every October, people all over the world come together to show their support for those affected by breast cancer. We’re here for you this Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, no matter how you’re dealing with breast cancer.