Cancer Awareness Month: How Much Do You Know About The Dreaded Disease?

Cancer Awareness Month: How Much Do You Know About The Dreaded Disease

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.

Find out the ways you can get involved and support during the month.

Breast cancer … it’s a scary thought and all too many women assume that it won’t happen to them. Fact is though, every ten minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in some countries. So, don’t be ignorant, during breast cancer awareness month 2018 go for a medical checkup, it might save your life.

Early signs of breast cancer can be a lump in a breast, a painful breast or armpit, or a discharge from the nipple. Even if none of these symptoms present themselves, a doctor should be visited to be sure. A doctor will most likely perform a manual exam and send you for a mammogram. A mammogram examination is painless and only takes about ten minutes.

If any of these symptoms do present themselves there’s no need to panic. Plenty of time, pain or a lump in a breast can be perfectly harmless. The pain can be a sign of a cyst or the lump can be benign. It’s always better to be sure though.

If the mammogram shows a lump, your doctor will order a biopsy. This test will show if the lump is benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous). If the lump is cancerous there’s still no reason to panic. Early detection is a life saver. By way of a simple operation the lump is removed after which the doctor will discuss further options with you.

If you’ve never had a mammogram, make an appointment during breast cancer awareness month 2018. You can take a friend or family member with you and afterward you’ll have peace of mind.

Causes Of Breast Cancer: How Did This Happen?
When you’re told that you have breast cancer, it’s natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA

Known Risk Factors
Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors (such as drinking alcohol) can be avoided. But most risk factors (such as having a family history of breast cancer) can’t be avoided. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get breast cancer. Many women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer.

Detecting Breast Cancer Earlier
Breast cancer can’t be prevented, but you can take three important steps to help detect it earlier. The free resource, 3 Steps to Early Detection, can increase your chance of finding breast cancer before it spreads.

Step One: Be Aware of Potential Symptoms

Step one is being aware of potential breast-cancer symptoms. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, contact your healthcare provider promptly; chances are good that cancer is not the cause, but it’s worth your time to make an appointment if you notice:

unusual nipple tenderness;
changes in areola, nipple, or breast-skin texture, including enlarged pores, pitting, or reddened scaling;
a lump in/near the breast or underarm;
any unexplained change in the size or shape of a breast;
swelling of the breast, particularly if on only one side;
decrease in breast size, especially if just one breast is impacted;
a nipple that has turned slightly inward or become inverted;
Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple has become scaly, red, or swollen; also may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange;
nipple discharges, particularly if they’re clear or bloody.

Step Two: Self-Exam

A woman’s next line of defense is performing monthly breast self-exams:

In the shower – Move the pads of your fingers in a circular pattern from the outside to the center of each breast and armpit area. If a lump, thickening, or a hard knot is detected, contact your healthcare provider.
In front of a mirror – Visually inspect your breasts, first with arms at your sides, then raised overhead. Keep an eye out for changes in breast as well as nipple shape, swelling, and skin dimpling; pay particular attention to changes occurring in just one breast.
Lying down – With a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head, move the finger pads on your left hand in a circular motion over the entirety of your right breast and armpit area; gently squeeze the nipple to test for discharge. Follow the same steps on your left breast.

Step Three: Mammogram and Clinical Exam

Women’s most effective early detection weapons are regularly scheduled mammogram screenings and clinical breast exams.

Mammograms often can uncover a breast lump before it can be felt. They also can point to potential abnormal cells. Current guidelines are:

Women 40 and older should have mammograms every one or two years.
Women who are younger than 40, and have breast-cancer-risk factors, should ask their healthcare professional how often they should have a mammogram.
A clinical breast exam is performed by a healthcare professional trained to recognize breast abnormalities. Most often, this exam is conducted by your primary care physician or gynecologist as part of an annual assessment.

October is the ideal month for women to empower themselves and take proactive steps to preserve their breast health.

What else can you do?
There are plenty of other ways to get involved and support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond.

From campaigning to help women get access to the breast cancer drugs they need, to sharing information women need to know about checking their breasts, your support will help to reach the day when breast cancer has claimed its last life.


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