During the month of October, we hope to help to bring a wider awareness to Breast Cancer research and symptoms.
Breast Cancer Awareness month, often recognizable by its pink ribbon imagery, was originally declared a month of awareness in 1985 to help promote screening and prevention and help to spread awareness about the early signs and symptoms of the disease. Since it began, there have been several additions to the overall month the most recent as of 2021. These additions include the declaration of October 13th as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and the week of October 17th – 23rd as Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week.
There is a common misconception that only women are affected by this disease, and while it’s true that it’s more commonly diagnosed in women, Breast Cancer affects those of all genders. In the year 2022, it is estimated that 287,850 women and 2,7000 men will be affected in America. That is close to 1 in every 8 women and 1 in every 833 men who will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. The disease is still the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women, with an even higher mortality rate when diagnosed in men.
This is why it is vital to look for early warning signs and seek regular screenings. Thanks to advances in medicine and treatment, the mortality rate linked to Breast Cancer which is diagnosed and treated, has been on a stable decline over the last several years for those over the age of 50, and is hopeful to continue this trend.
Common Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer Include:
- New lumps in the breast or around the armpit
- Thickening or swelling of parts of the breasts
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic Breast Cancer, also known as stage IV, is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast tissue. This can mean it spreads to a variety of other locations in the body, including the bones, lungs, brain, or liver.
- Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer Becoming Metastatic Breast Cancer:
- Spread to Bones: Sudden new pain in the body (any bones can be affected)
- Spread to Lungs: Pain or discomfort in the lung, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough
- Spread to Brain: Headaches, changes in speech or vision, memory problems
- Spread to Liver: Pain or discomfort in the midsection, fatigue, weight loss/loss of appetite, fever
Breast cancer can often be overlooked as other illnesses or masked by other symptoms or conditions. If you are experiencing any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms or prolonged changes in health, it is important to seek the advice of your primary physician. Also, ensure that you are familiar with your family’s medical history and that your care provider is aware of any known conditions in your family.
How To Prevent Breast Cancer
While it is not possible to completely prevent Breast Cancer, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing the disease during your lifetime. Some such steps are:
- Stay physically active and make an effort to achieve your recommended level of activity per day
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke or vape
- Eat recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables
- Decrease the amount of red meat consumed
- Limit alcohol intake
Many of these steps also help prevent other diseases and health complications.
While Breast Cancer treatments and diagnosis have improved greatly, the disease itself is still dangerous and largely unknown. If you would like to learn more or support Breast Cancer Research please visit: American Cancer Society | Information and Resources about for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin