October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have had many friends and family affected by breast cancer and the more aware people are the more chance they can have of detecting things early. Today’s guest post is by a writer from Breastlight. I hope you find it helpful.
Breast Cancer Awareness has been going for over 20 years now and the trademark pink ribbon has become as easily recognizable as the emblem of your favourite football team or designer label.
The annual death rate attributable to breast cancer teeters around the 11-12,000 mark, with 99% of the deaths being among women. In the US the annual mortality figure is around 40,000, which, considering the US population is around 5 times that of the UK is actually a relatively lower rate. And yet, no matter how you look at it, it is a substantial number and behind every one of those thousands of people lie a family torn apart and a whole lot of grieving.
That is why Breast Cancer Awareness month is such an important month when it comes to spreading the message to the millions upon millions of potential victims of this pernicious disease.
One of the leading radiation oncologists at Riverside Community Hospital in the US has recently issued a few of the most important warning signs when it comes to risk factors that are linked to breast cancer. These include:
• Nipple retraction
• A mass or lump in the breast
The lack of other obvious symptoms make breast cancer a tricky disease to pick up on unless people look out for these warning signs and carry out regular self-checks. This is the sort of information that is spread during Breast Cancer Awareness month. In addition, the importance of having a mammogram at the right age is key. Mammograms are by far the most common mechanism for diagnosing the disease and there are guidelines as to when to have them done. Ideally, women should have a mammogram at the age of 40 and then annually between ages of 40 and 50, or at least every other year. After passing 50, mammograms should be done on an annual basis.
There are some important factors that make some more at risk than others and change the mammogram recommendations. For instance if your mother had breast cancer then screening should start when you are 10 years younger than the age at which your mother was diagnosed. In addition, you should certainly reconsider smoking, excessive drinking and becoming obese as all three can increase the chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Of course, if you notice any of the three signs listed above (nipple retraction, discolouration, mass or lump) then an immediate scan should be requested, which could well be paired with a biopsy.
Finally, there is a very important genetic mutation that changes guidelines dramatically. This refers to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations which mean that a woman with one of these genetic mutations has a 60-90% chance of developing either breast or ovarian cancer in her lifetime. Anyone with this mutation should undergo even more regular checks and family members should be checked for the same genetic mutation.
Breast cancer awareness month is the ideal month to spread this information to anyone you might feel could be unaware of the guidelines, so do not be afraid to share this article.
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Thanks for reading.