“The only person who can save you is you: that was going to be the thing that informed the rest of my life.”-Sheryl Crow on her breast cancer diagnosis
It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we thought it’s important to share some key facts about it. Though it can be a scary issue to talk about, knowing is half the battle. We want to empower our readers so we have listed the top 5 things you need to know about breast cancer.
#5 Men get it too
Sorry guys, it’s true. Men can get breast cancer. Though it is considered somewhat rare, it does happen. According to the American Cancer Society, “about 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed and 470 men will die from breast cancer in 2017.” While the odds are low, if you ever see anything weird or different on your chest, make an appointment immediately to go see a medical practitioner.
#4 Do frequent exams
This might seem like common sense but many people ignore this. According to board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Baker, MD, PhD, “you should do a self-exam every week or at minimum every month. If you feel something weird go get it checked! Most of the time lumps and abnormalities are benign, but why take a chance?” This is something quick and easy to do and it could end up saving your life.
#3 Risk Factors
More and more research is indicating that hormones seem to play a large role in the development of breast cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), here are a few of the risk factors for breast cancer:
- Genetic mutations: inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited these genetic changes are at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Using combination hormone therapy : taking hormones to replace missing estrogen and progesterone in menopause for more than five years raises the risk for breast cancer. The hormones that have been shown to increase risk are estrogenand progestin when taken concurrently.
#2 Mammograms are effectiveWhile mammograms can be uncomfortable and inconvenient they save lives. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation , “overall, the sensitivity of mammography is about 87 percent. This means mammography correctly identifies about 87 percent of women who truly have breast cancer.” Also, mammograms can see things doctors cannot see by the naked eye or through an exam. “It can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor,” according to cancercare.org. That alone should convince you to make and keep your next appointment.
#1 Mastectomies are getting better
Should you be diagnosed with breast cancer there are several options that can help treat it. Technology has continued to improve significantly over the last couple of decades. Dr. Baker says, “surgeons are getting really good at reconstructing breasts. Double mastectomies are becoming more common as they drop the rate of reoccurrence to between 1-5%.” Even though no one wants to go through this kind of surgery, knowing the reoccurrence rate is so low is an encouraging fact to hold onto if you or a loved one is going through this process.
Medicine and technology continues to move forward and improve. We have covered some ground with breast cancer but by no means should this be taken lightly. Should you or someone you know have anything unusual or different surrounding your chest or breast, go make an appointment with a physician. It might just save his or her life…
To your continued health,
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