Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to honor the women who have and are currently battling this horrific disease. At Paradiso Insurance, we are proud supporters of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, whose mission is to help women by providing help and inspiring hope
What is Breast Cancer?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. Breast cancer can begin in different areas of the breasts. Most forms of breast cancer begin in the ducts or lobules of the breast and can also spread through the blood and lymph vessels. There are two major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma, according to the CDC, is cancer cells that grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue, which can also spread to the other parts of the body. Invasive lobular carcinoma are cancer cells that spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that is close by and can also spread to other parts of the body.
While women are the majority affected, men should also be aware of their risk. Each year, it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. Yes, this percentage is very small, but men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower, and reporting any changes to their physicians. Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.
How can you get Breast Cancer? Symptoms?
Along with any types of illness, disorder or disease each case can be uniquely different from others. These symptoms may vary from person to person, and in some cases there may not be any symptoms present.
Signs and symptoms include:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of a part of the breast
- Irritation of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin on the breast
- Discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Depending on the type of breast cancer you are experiencing, there are several ways to treat it. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.
- Surgery – An operation where the doctors cut out any cancerous tissue.
- Chemotherapy – This treatment utilizes special medicines to shrink or kill the existing cancer cells. These can range from pills to medication that is injected into your veins and in some cases, both forms are used.
- Hormonal Therapy – This treatment blocks cancer cells from reaching the hormones that are needed for them to grow and expand.
- Biological Therapy – This treatment works with your immune system to help it fight off the cancer cells or can also be used to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
- Radiation Therapy – This treatment utilizes high-energy rays (similar to x-rays) to kill the cancer cells.
How can I reduce my risk?
While you cannot prevent breast cancer, there are factors that can influence the risk. Some are not changeable, such as age and family history. One of the most important ways to lower your risk of breast cancer is by taking care of your body. The following are a few ways that may help lower your risk of developing breast cancer:
- Maintaining a healthy weight—breast cancer is non-discriminatory; while women of all shapes and sizes get it, it’s always good to try to stay at a healthy weight, as this boosts the immune system
- Exercising regularly, as this also boosts the immune system, helping your body fight things off
- Avoiding alcohol or limiting the amount of alcoholic beverages to no more than one a day
- If you are taking or have been told to take oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breastfeed your children if possible
- If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk
For more information and resources to help prevent breast cancer, visit The National Breast Cancer Foundation.