Become informed and help raise awareness about this prevalent disease
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the most common cancer in women. Knowing the signs can lead to early detection and a better survival rate. Knowing the facts can help you spread the word on how to fight this disease and the many resources available.
We’ve pulled together some basic information for you to begin the process of learning. We hope you’ll use this to begin conversations with women in your life.
Did you know…?
- 1 of every 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
- About 2,100 men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
- More than 250,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, and almost 41,000 will die.
- Most breast cancer diagnoses are in women over age 50.
Symptoms to look for
Women ages 21 years and older should perform self breast exams, because being familiar with the shape, look, and feel of their breasts can help women to quickly and easily identify any potential symptoms or changes.
It’s always better to have a symptom checked as early as possible. If you experience any of the following, schedule an appointment with your doctor:
- a lump in your breast or under your arm
- pain in any part of your breast or nipple
- red, flaky skin near your nipple
- changes to the size or shape of your breast
- thickness or swelling of any part of your breast
- irritated or dimpling skin on any part of your breast
- any kind of discharge from the nipple (other than breast milk)
Regular mammograms are one way to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women should talk to their doctor about how often they should get a mammogram, and starting at what age, based on their risk factors.
Risk factors and how to minimize them
The CDC considers the following to be risk factors for breast cancer. Some factors you cannot control, such as:
- having started your menstrual cycle before age 12
- menopause that begins after age 55
- dense breasts
- family history of breast cancer
- an inherited genetic mutation (in the BRCA 1 or BRCA2 gene)
- Eastern European Jewish heritage
However, there are other factors you can control. Doing regular exercise, maintaining a consistent, healthy weight for your body frame (especially after menopause), and limiting your alcohol consumption can possibly decrease your risk of breast cancer.
Research also shows that never having had a full-term pregnancy, or being pregnant for the first time after the age of 30, can be risk factors. Breastfeeding may be another way to possibly minimize the risks. For more information, visit:
We hope this has increased your basic level of awareness, and you’ll spend time this month talking to women you know about the risks, supporting each other in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and finding ways to become involved.
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Harris School of Business. We care about the health and well being of all our students. Reach out to us for more information about our number of different career training programs.