October – the month of Halloween excitement, cooler days, and Breast Cancer awareness.
A few quick facts for you to understand just how widespread breast cancer is.
Many of us know at least 1 person who has been affected by cancer. It could be a family member, a colleague, an old teacher, or even yourself. Cancer affects everyone in so many ways and with varying levels of seriousness, often due to how early it is detected.
But did you know that for women, the most common type of cancer is Breast Cancer? Which is why during the month of October it is International Breast Cancer Awareness month, to raise awareness around early detection, educating women and supporting them.
- 1 in 8 women in the USA will develop invasive Breast Cancer during their lifetime.
- Studies show that the average age of diagnoses is 10 years younger in the UAE than elsewhere in the world.
- When detected early on, chances go up by 98% for recovery.
What do these facts suggest? Well, it solidifies the vital need for research to keep up with the latest advances in treatment to save people’s lives. So, we wanted to bring to everyones’ attention a few things. What is breast cancer? What symptoms should you look out for? And various ways that you can make a difference in the fight against Breast Cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but did you know that men can get breast cancer, too?
Recent studies are looking at the effect of exercise, weight gain or loss, and diet on risk, as well as how common gene variations (small changes in genes that are not as significant as mutations) may affect breast cancer risk.
Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
It is so important to know how your breasts normally look and feel, which means that you will also be aware of any changes in your breasts. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass, often painless and hard mass. Some cancers could be painful though which is why it is so important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by an experienced health care professional. Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt)
- Skin dimpling (sometimes looks like an orange peel)
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
- Swollen lymph under the arm or around the collar bone
- Of course, these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer. But if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional immediately!
- While checking yourself at home, and looking for the above changes, it important to note the following:
Check yourself when you breast are not swollen, often 6 – 10 days after your first day of your menstrual cycle.
- Make sure you have a mammogram with your doctor every 2 years, starting at the age of 40, and even earlier if you have a family member with a history of cancer.
What causes breast cancer:
The primary risk factors for breast cancer are being female and 50 years and above.
Smoking appears to increase the risk of breast cancer, with the greater the amount smoked and the earlier in life that smoking began, the higher the risk.
A lack of physical activity has been linked to about 10% of cases, while sitting for prolonged periods is associated with higher mortality from breast cancer.
There is research that suggests that obesity can influence you developing breast cancer also. This is largely due to altered estrogen hormone levels that are associated with weight gain in women.
There is an association between use of hormonal birth control and the development of premenopausal breast cancer. Your medical history and family history will often play a role in whether any type of hormone could increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
It could be caused by genetic mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. Especially if you have a family history of relatives that carry these genes also. it is believed that which is believed that 5–10% of cases refer to someone who has a family history.
Having your first menstrual period at an earlier age and experiencing menopause at a later age—meaning more years of having your period—is associated with a higher chance of developing
breast cancer. This is believed to be due to the hormonal changes that occur each month with a woman’s menstrual cycle
Breast Cancer Myths:
As with everything, there is so much information regarding breast cancer, and along with all the conflicting information available, there are a few myths that you can debunk:
If I find a lump, I have Breast Cancer – WRONG a lump could mean many different things and it is always suggested.
Only women with a family history can get it – WRONG there are many environmental factors that can cause the abnormal growth of cells that lead to breast cancer.
I am too young to have it – WRONG as it depends if you have a family history of cancer or not.
Wearing antiperspirant increases my risk – WRONG as research has shown that the two aspects are not related.
How can you help raise awareness?
Do you have a hobby making something? Why not consider offering some of your profits t a research charity or support group to help further the knowledge of cancer research and support those who are possibly in need.
Get your employees and family involved! For 1 whole month, every week, encourage everyone to wear PINK! This will help raise awareness to everyone around you!
Get your community involved! Maybe it is your favourite gym class or coffee shop?
If you wish to donate some money to a charity that supports families and research, you can donate to local charities. They aim to minimize the impact of cancer through providing financial support, guidance, and various other types of assistance to needy cancer patients and their families throughout the UAE.
Do you small bit to raise HOPE for Breast Cancer sufferers and help make a change by supporting
research and improving peoples lives! Together we can Beat Cancer!