Friday, October 5, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is designated Breast Cancer Awareness month. Our community has a "Break for Breakfast" each year where women can grab a sack breakfast and get some facts about breast cancer. It's a fun health promotion program that is intended on educating the community about beast cancer. I was sitting here thinking that I am a health science major and as part of that I need to do my job to bring awareness to individuals therefore, another blogpost :) The American Cancer Society has a great website that is user friendly. There they have facts about different kinds of cancer and preventative measures to take with each one. Since this post is about breast cancer, that is where I will be focusing, but you can find more on their website. Here are some breast cancer facts that I found interesting:
  • Most masses are not cancerous
  • Most breast cancers are invasive
  • Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women
  • In 2011, about 2,140 cases of breast cancer were expected to occur among men
  • Approximately 2.6 million US women with a history of breast cancer were alive in January 2008 more than half of whom were diagnosed less than 10 years earlier
  • Breast cancer incidence and death rates generally increase with age
  • Breast caner incidence rates are higher in non-Hispanic white women compared to African American women for most age groups
Preventative measures should be taken starting at age 20. Doing a breast self-exam helps you to know if an abnormal lump appears and you can catch it early. Here you can find out how to perform that.
While you are in your 20's and 30's you should have a clinical breast exam every 3 years. I remember my women's health teacher telling me that if you have a history of breast cancer then you should have one 20 years before that detection. (i.e. if your aunt was diagnosed with cancer at age 39, then you should have one at age 19). It is recommended that women 40 and over have mammograms yearly. 

There are five things that the American Cancer Society want you tell your friends about breast cancer:
  1. All women can get breast cancer--even those who have NO family history of the disease.
  2. The two most important risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and growing older.
  3. Women diagnosed with breast cancer early, when the cancer is small and has not spread, have a high chance of surviving it. Getting a mammogram is the best thing you can do to help find breast cancer early. If you notice any breast changes, tell you doctor without delay.
  4. You can help reduce your chances of having breast cancer by doing regular physical activity, keeping healthy weight, and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.
  5. Through early detection and improved treatments, more women than ever are surviving breast cancer and celebrating more birthdays.
You can estimate your risk for developing breast cancer here. You can also find a risk assessment tool on the National Cancer Institute's website. 

Early detection is the best protection. My sister is in the Radiology program and she came home the other day and told me that her professor said that 1 in 8 of you will get breast cancer. That is crazy! We do live in a day where quick fixes are what we want. In order to be completely healthy, we can't rely on that. You have to constantly work at it. Even if you are a health freak, you are not exempt from getting cancer or different diseases, it just is a preventative measure. Please do your best to be healthy and educate yourself and others about breast cancer. Here is another website you can use.

Challenge: Do a preventative measure that will help you to detect cancer early. If you are not 20 yet, talk to your family to see if there is a history of breast cancer--or any cancer. Educate those around you so they can live longer lives!

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