Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This month marks the annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease. One of its goals is to raise funds for research into its cause, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and cure. The campaign also helps educate people about the importance of early screening and offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

This Deadly Disease Affects Women Worldwide

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.

Here in the United States, about 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram is one of the principal diagnostic tools used to help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat. Thanks to largely stable incidence rates, improved treatments, as well as earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, a woman’s risk of dying of breast cancer dropped significantly between the late 1980s and today. It is estimated that more than 300,000 breast cancer deaths have been avoided during that time.

The Different Kinds of Breast Cancer

The most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen. Hereditary breast cancer makes up 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Facts About Breast Cancer in the United States

  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • It is the second leading cause of cancer death among women behind lung cancer.
  • It is estimated that more than 245,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 40,000 will die.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Nationally, there are estimated to be over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors alive today.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.
  • What many people don’t realize is that though rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Being female and older in age are risk factors for breast cancer. Some studies have shown that alcohol consumption may increase the risk. Other risk factors include dense breast tissue, taking hormones for symptoms of menopause, smoking, obesity, and not getting enough exercise. Women who have certain gene mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, as well as ovarian cancer.

Symptoms and Warning Signs for Breast Cancer

Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. That’s why yearly screenings and visits to your doctor are highly recommended. If you experience any symptom that worries you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Finding a new lump in the breast or underarm
  • Pain in any area of the breast
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk; this may include blood
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or elsewhere on the breast
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area

Keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions that are not cancer, so it is very important to always check with your doctor at the very first sign.

Help Spread the Word

There are many businesses, charitable organizations, research foundations, media outlets, and everyday people joining together, not just in October, but every day to help raise awareness, and funds, for breast cancer research. We urge you to take part. Please help these people and organizations by supporting their cause with donations, time, and most importantly, your voice. Tell your friends, your family members – any women whom you care about, to get a mammogram. You could very well be helping to save her life.