With October observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, physicians at Thomas Health have passed along these facts and statistics to be mindful of year-round:
nBreast cancer (skin cancer) is the most common cancer among women in the United States.
nOne in eight women who live to be 80 will get breast cancer in their lifetime. That works out to be about 12 women out of 100 who live to be 80 will have had breast cancer.
nIt is estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancer.
nMen also get breast cancer but at a much low rate — about one in 1,000. But men fail to recognize the sign and symptoms and fail to get diagnosis as quickly.
nSigns and symptoms of breast cancer are swelling of any part of the breast; skin irritation or dimpling; breast pain; nipple pain or turning inward when it before had not; redness, scaliness or thickening of the skin; discharge other than milk; or lump(s).
These can also be sign of a less serious condition, such as a cyst, but it is important to be checked.
nBegin your breast self-exams in your 20s. Most lumps are found by women themselves.
nFamily members who have the BRac1 or BRca2 gene mutation can pass that genetic flaw on. This gene mutation can cause breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. It can be passed by male or female.
nEvery woman is at risk for breast cancer. Simply being a woman is your greatest risk factor. Age is the second. Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it is most likely after age 40. This risk increases with age.
nOther risk factors include: family history for breast cancer, no pregnancy or first pregnancy after age 30, obesity, early menstrual periods and late menopause.
nMore than 70% of women with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors other than being women.
nControl the risk factors that are controllable. These include a healthy diet, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, performing breast self-exams, having an annual breast exam by a health care professional, and having regular mammograms.
Although mammograms are a wonderful tool for early detection, and often detect cancer long before it is felt, some breast cancers are found on physical exams alone.
nEighty percent of the breast biopsies done each year are negative for cancer. If a mammogram, physical exam or ultrasound shows anything suspicious and cannot be determined for cause, then biopsies are done.
nThe earlier a cancer is detected, the better the treatment option and the better the survival rates.