October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Did you know that Breast Cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, second only to non-melanoma skin cancer? Here’s a troubling statistic – half of all women diagnosed with Breast Cancer are over age 65.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 cases of invasive breast cancer are found in women younger than age 45, while 2 in 3 cases of invasive breast cancer occur in women age 55 and older.
Even men are susceptible. Each year it is estimated that approximately 1,700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die. Yes, men get breast cancer, too!
Risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age: Half of all women diagnosed are over age 65.
- Weight: Being obese or overweight.
- Diet & Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity, a diet high in saturated fat, and alcoholic intake of more than two drinks per day.
- Menstrual & Reproductive History: Early menstruation or late menopause, having your first child at an older age or not having given birth, or taking birth control pills for more than ten years if you are under 35.
- Family & Personal History: A family history of breast cancer-particularly a mother, sister. or a personal history of breast cancer of benign (non-cancer) breast disease.
- Medical & Other Factors: Dense breast tissue (often identified by a mammogram), past radiation therapy to the breast or chest area. A history of hormone treatments-such as estrogen and progesterone, or gene changes- including BRCA1, BRCA2, and others.
Common signs & symptoms of breast cancer include:
- You may experience nipple tenderness or notice a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in how the breast or nipple looks: This could mean a change in the size or shape of the breast or a nipple that is turned slightly inward. In addition, the skin of the breast, areola or nipple may appear scaly, red or swollen or may have ridges or pitting that resembles the skin of an orange.You
- Nipple discharge.
- A change in how the breast or nipple feels.
An Early Breast Cancer Detection Plan should include:
- Beginning at age 20: Performing breast self-exams and looking for any signs of change.
- Age 20 to 39: Scheduling clinical breast exams every three years.
- By the age of 40: Having a baseline mammogram and annual clinical breast exams.
- Ages 40 to 49: Having a mammogram every one to two years depending on previous findings.
- Ages 50 and older: Having a mammogram every year.
- All Ages: – Recording personal exams, mammograms and doctors appointments on a calendar or in a detailed file.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, following a low-fat diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption.
All of this information and more is available at The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website.