The month of October is also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual campaign aims to increase not only the awareness of the disease, but also remind women of the importance of regular examinations and a prevention plan. According to the National Institutes of Health, about one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. The most effective way to fight breast cancer is having a plan that helps detects the disease in its early stages. When breast cancer is detected at an early stage, there is a 100% survival rate. Awareness and an early detection plan are keys to the prevention of breast cancer.
Be Aware of the Symptoms of Breast Cancer
During the early stages of breast cancer, they are usually no symptoms. Once the tumor grows, how the breast looks or feels will often being to change. Some patients do not display any symptoms before they are diagnosed. However, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the potential symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in or near the breast or in the armpit
- A change in the shape or size of the breast
- Dimpling in the skin of the breast
- Nipple turned inward to the breast
- Flaky or red swollen skin on the breast or nipple
- Discharge from the nipple, especially blood
It is important to note that these symptoms do not automatically indicate breast cancer. Any of these conditions can also signal a benign condition, such as a cyst or infection. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you display any of these symptoms.
Tips for Preventing Breast Cancer
Although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, you can make small changes to your lifestyle in order to maximize your potential for prevention.
- Embracing a well-balanced diet is key. Maintaining a healthy well-rounded diet that is high in fruits and vegetable is a simple change to make to your everyday life that will keep your body strong.
- Stay physically active. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy diet & exercise routine can reduce your chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer by 40%. An exercise routine as simple as a 30-minute walk five days a week can lower your risk of breast cancer.
- Quit Smoking. Long- term cigarette smokers are often associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in some women.
- Bearing Children. A woman’s risk of breast cancer declines with the number of children she has given birth to. Also, breast-feeding your child for at least a year can reduced the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer later in life. Research suggests that this is because of the effect pregnancy and breastfeeding has on breast cells. When breast cells mature in order to produce milk, they also become more resistant to transforming into cancer cells.
- Avoid hormone replacement therapy. Menopausal hormone therapy has been connected to increase the risk of breast cancer development. If taking hormones to manage your menopausal symptoms is necessary, be sure to limit intake to less than three years and avoid those that contain progesterone.
- Regular breast examination. The most important component in preventing and detecting breast cancer is regularly performed breast cancer screenings. Screenings are performed on symptom-free women with intent to catch the disease in the earliest stage possible. Mammograms are recommended regularly for all women ages 50 to 74.
Although breast cancer is not preventable, taking these actions together can decrease your risk of this disease. Educating and preparing women are the driving factors of breast cancer awareness month. Check out the National Breast Cancer Foundation website for information on early detection, educational resources and donations.