It is officially Pink October! Breast cancer awareness month has begun as an annual campaign to spread awareness of the heartbreaking disease. There are many people who are aware of breast cancer but there are just as many who forget the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. It is vital that you take the precautions to living a breast cancer free life whether male or female.
Below are facts of breast cancer provided by The National Breast Cancer Foundation that will expand your knowledge of breast cancer:
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.
Breast cancer that is detected early, at a localized stage, the five year survival rate is 98%. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Breast cancer can be diagnosed through multiple tests, including a mammogram, ultrasound, MRI and biopsy.
Once a person is determined to have a malignant tumor of the diagnosis of breast cancer, the healthcare team will determine breast cancer staging to communicate how far the disease has progressed.
Types of breast cancer include ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, inflammatory breast cancer, and metastatic breast cancer.
Myth: Finding a lump in your breast means you breast cancer.
Truth: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast tissue, it should not be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam. He or she may possibly order breast imaging studies to determine if the lump is of concern or not.
Myth: Men do not get breast cancer; it affects women only.
Truth: Quite the contrary, each year it is estimated that approximately 2,1900 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 die. While this percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower and reporting any changes to their physicians.
Myth: A mammogram can cause a breast cancer spread.
Truth: A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, currently remains the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression while getting a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”
Myth: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer, too.
Truth: While women who have a family history of breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.
Myth: Breast cancer is contagious.
Truth: You cannot catch breast cancer or transfer it to someone else’s body. Breast cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that begin to spread into other tissues within the breast. However, you can reduce your risk by practicing a healthy lifestyle, being aware of the risk factors, and following an early detection plan so that you will be diagnosed early if breast cancer were to occur.
Myth: If the gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 is detected in your DNA, you will definitely develop breast cancer.
Truth: According the National Cancer Institute, regarding families who are known to carry BRCA1 or BRCA2, “not every woman in such families carries a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and not every cancer in such families is linked to a harmful mutation in one of these genes. Furthermore, not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer.But, a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.” For people who discover they have the harmful mutation, there are various proactive measures that can be done to reduce risk. These include taking a hormonal therapy called Tamoxifen or deciding to take a surgical prevention approach which is to have bilateral prophylactic mastectomies, usually done with reconstruction. Most women will also have ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well since there is no reliable screening test for the early stages of developing ovarian cancer.
Myth: Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.
Truth: Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.
BreastCancer.org lists the following statistics:
● About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
● In 2015, an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 60,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
● About 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2015. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
● Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7% from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
● About 40,290 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2015 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
● For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
● About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
Breast cancer is a devastating disease that affects many lives around the world. It is important that we stand by those who are fighting and help prevent the disease from taking more lives.
This month we wear a pink ribbon to promote breast cancer awareness and show our support, love and respect for those fighting and those who we have lost.