October is breast cancer awareness month, so it is an excellent time to remind ourselves of things we can do to lower our risk of getting breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society,
“Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.”
Preventing Breast Cancer
One startling fact is that 1 in 8 American women will have breast cancer in her lifetime. There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but according to the American Cancer Society, there are several things that we can do to help lower our risk. Body weight, diet, and physical activity can all play a part in vulnerability to the disease. They also discuss the possibility, (if you have a strong family history of breast cancer) of talking to your doctor about genetic testing for mutations in genes that might increase your risk.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center also talks about prevention of the disease. They state that cancer screening is one of the best ways to help us prevent this type of cancer. Screenings can help find cancer at the earliest stage, when most treatable. They recommend starting self-breast exams at age 20. There is an excellent description of the three types of breast self-exams at the National Breast Cancer Foundation website. These include exams done in the shower, in front of the mirror, or lying down. Be familiar with how your breasts look and feel, and immediately report any changes to your doctor. Mammograms are so very important, as the cancer doesn’t always present itself as a lump. It can progress from an inverted nipple. In fact, the most aggressive type, which is inflammatory breast cancer, is usually not noted with a lump but rather other changes to the breast (such as redness, swelling, warmth, or an orange-peel look to the skin) according to BreastCancer.org.
New Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
It is important to note in our discussion here that recently the American Cancer Society released new guidelines for breast cancer screening. A few of the changes include women with average risk may begin mammograms at age 45, breast exams are no longer recommended (by a medical provider or self-exam), and women over 55 may get mammograms every other year. You can read about the new guidelines thoroughly by clicking on the link provided, but we recommend you speak with your doctor and decide what is best for you.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
According to the Centers For Disease Control, there are several factors that can increase your risk for breast cancer.
- Being younger when you had your first menstrual cycle
- Starting menopause at an older age
- Never giving birth or being older at the birth of your first child
- Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
- History or family history of breast cancer
- Alcohol use
- Night-shift work
According to the Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, since 1990 breast cancer mortality has decreased by 34% and this decline is due to early detection and improved breast cancer treatment. That is why these prevention suggestions are so important.
The American Cancer Society gives us a quick little quiz we can take on this subject.
We all, of course, hope we never need a doctor to educate us on the various treatments available for breast cancer, but educating ourselves on how to lower the risk of getting to that point is something positive that we all can do to protect ourselves. So if you have been putting off making that appointment with your doctor to discuss your risks and to set up your mammogram, this is the perfect month to do that!
Do you have a loved one fighting breast cancer away from their medical team and the comfort of home? Are you a case manager who needs to get their patient to MD Anderson Cancer Center or another treatment facility? We are a fixed wing air ambulance jet service at the ready to help you get your loved one or patient where they need to be safely and comfortably. Please give us a call at (888) 632-5560 or simply click here now.
photo credit: Pink October * Octubre el mundo en rosa !!!! via photopin (license)