September 14, 2020
In addition to pumpkin-spiced lattes, it’s also time to bust out the pink ribbons and raise awareness about breast cancer. Did you know that, after skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women in the U.S.? Unfortunately, that means most people know someone who has had breast cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime.
The good news is that so much progress has been made in the fight against this disease. There have been major advances in treatment with new, targeted therapies that are more effective and less toxic. Breast cancer survival rates have also greatly increased. For those who receive a diagnosis in the early stages, the survival rate is 99% – so screenings and mammograms are really important! Please encourage your friends to get theirs!
The way your breasts look and feel can change as you age. They even change throughout your monthly cycle. What’s normal for one person may not be normal for another so symptoms can vary from person to person. Of course, the most recognizable symptom is a lump but here are other early warning signs for breast cancer:
If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away. Be assured that most breast lumps are cysts, which are non-cancerous and filled with fluid.
Up to 10% of breast cancers are inherited and linked to gene mutations that are passed down through the family. So, if you know that your family has a history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend a blood test that can identify if you have an increased risk. This applies to men, too. One of the myths out there about breast cancer is that men can’t get it. Though rare, breast cancer can form in the breast tissue of men, especially if there is a family history. It also can occur at any age although it is most often diagnosed in men in their 60s.
Other risk factors include obesity, alcohol or cigarette usage, starting your period before age 12, never being pregnant or having your first child past age 30. There are also studies that suggest using hormone-releasing birth control methods for an extended length of time may increase your risk of breast and cervical cancer, although they do reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Talk to your doctor about any personal concerns you may have. Together, you can discuss when it’s right for you to begin yearly clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Breast cancer is a complex disease with a lot of factors beyond your control, including genetics and age. While there is no sure way to prevent cancer, there are some things you can do to lower your risk.
Increased body weight has been linked to an increased risk, so the American Cancer Society recommends that you maintain a healthy weight. They also suggest that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per week, since being active can lower your risk.
Some researchers believe that diet could be partly responsible for up to 40% of all cancers. More research is needed but it has been established that obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer. The idea is that extra fat cells in women make extra estrogen, which increases breast cell growth. Breast cancer is also historically less common in countries where the typical diet is plant-based and lower in saturated fat. The following, nutrient-rich foods are known to be part of a healthy diet so you may want to ensure that your diet prioritizes these choices:
Check out breastcancer.org for a downloadable guide with 31 steps you can take to “Think Pink, Live Green” and reduce your risk.
Schedule your yearly check-up and mammogram by calling Riverside Medical Clinic at 951-683-6370.