October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Hi everyone!

As most of us know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since I’m a public health major and most of my readers are females, I thought I’d address some women’s health issues on here. More specifically, it felt appropriate to make a post about breast cancer. So let’s learn a little today, shall we?

Etiology (causes):
Essentially, any type of cancer is caused by rapid cell division, which leads to DNA mutation. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer can either be inherited or acquired. This means breast cancer is genetic and if any of your relatives have breast cancer, you’re also susceptible to it. You can also acquire breast cancer through your lifestyle and behavior.

Incidence and prevalence rates:
Incidence is the number of new cases per year. Below is a great graphic showcasing the worldwide incidence rate of breast cancer for 2014. As you can see, there are over 100 new cases per 100,000 women in Canada, western Europe, and Australia. According to BreastCancer.org, US incidence rates have been declining since 2000. As opposed to incidence, prevalence is the total number of existing cases. In the US alone, 2.8 million women have a history of breast cancer.

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Risk factors:
Risk factors are any lifestyle or behavior choices that could increase your chances of having breast cancer. These factors can include your demographic characteristics such as gender, age, race and ethnicity; white women ages 55 years and older are more susceptible to breast cancer than others. Your genetics and family history are also a risk factor; you are more susceptible to breast cancer if one of your relatives has had it. According to American Cancer Society, lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol, birth control, and being overweight or obese can also increase your chances of getting breast cancer.

Signs & symptoms:
Signs and symptoms are abnormalities you can see or feel that may hint at breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • a lump or thickening around the breast or underarm area
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • a dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast
  • a nipple turned inward into the breast
  • nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast or areola
  • dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange

Diagnosis:
Although I mentioned some signs and symptoms above, sometimes breast cancer can occur before signs or symptoms appear. It’s best to get screened before it’s too late. Screen exams include imaging tests, mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, and biopsy. According to American Cancer Society, women should begin getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. For women in their 20s and 30s, a clinical breast exam (CBE) every 3 years is recommended. Don’t forget you can also examine yourself at home!

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Treatment & prevention:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer can be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy. Oftentimes, a patient will go through more than one type of treatment for breast cancer. As for prevention methods, the CDC recommends that you:

  • keep a healthy weight
  • exercise regularly
  • get enough sleep
  • limit alcohol consumption
  • avoid carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals)
  • breastfeed your babies, if possible

That’s it for this post! I hope you found it informative. While researching for this post, I actually didn’t know there were so many signs and symptoms other than lumps or discoloration in the breast. If you learned something new, please leave a comment and let me know. Don’t forget to like and subscribe if you want to see more similar posts. Until then, have a lovely day and don’t forget to check yourself! xx

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