Did you know that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women? Statistics show 1 in 8 women (and 1 in 1,000 men) will get breast cancer at some point in their life. The good news is that survival rates for this disease are very good if it’s detected and treated early. Its critical women take the time to learn how to prevent and detect this disease in its early stages to increase survival rates. It can occur in women (and men!) even if there’s no family history of breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to get screened and increase your awareness. This week’s blog gives you tips on what to look for and how to protect yourself from this potential disease.
Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes signs and symptoms for breast cancer can go undetected for a while, which is why both a breast self-exam and annual breast exam are so important. Breast screenings, or mammograms, can detect breast cancer early. This will make the cancer easier to treat and improves your chance of beating the disease with fewer complications.
When doing your own breast exam, look for the following changes:
- A change in size or shape of the breast.
- Tenderness or pain in any area of the breast.
- Any nipple discharge (other than breast milk), such as blood.
- An emerging lump in the breast or underarm.
If you notice any of these, call your doctor right away. Early detection is the key to successful treatment!
3 Tips to Reduce Your Risk
There are certain unavoidable rick factors for breast cancer, such as having the BRCA mutation or being of high-risk ethnic descent. The good news is there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
- Start Exercising. Exercise is one of the best ways you can reduce your risk. Studies show that exercise benefits women of all shapes and sizes, even lean women, by decreasing their risk for breast cancer. Pick an activity you love and step to it – not only will you be benefiting your heart, you’ll also be helping your breasts! Aim to exercise for about 30-45 minutes each day 5 days per week, which has the greatest preventive effect.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a huge risk factor for breast cancer, as well as lung cancer. Women who smoke are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer so prevention is another great reason to quit! Speak with your doctor to discuss ways you can quit today.
- Get regular screenings. This doesn’t only mean annual mammograms after age 40. Studies show 8 out of 10 breast lumps are discovered during monthly self-exams so be sure to check yourself regularly. Don’t forget to include the lymph nodes under your arms as well as your breasts. If anything looks or feels unusual, contact your doctor immediately.
Awareness All Year Long
Breast cancer affects so many women. October may be Breast Cancer Awareness month but I hope you’ll take this information and use it throughout the year. Make plans to check yourself regularly and keep your risk factors to a minimum in order to increase your chances of remaining cancer-free. There are over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US and treatments are getting better all the time, increasing survival rates. Let’s keep ourselves healthy!
Your Turn To Take Action: How will you decrease your risk for breast cancer and spread awareness? Let me know in the comments below!