October is breast cancer awareness month. In preparation for this very important time of year, I thought I would put together a list of resources, statistics and ways you can help to raise awareness. Breast cancer is something that affects women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. According to Cancer.org 1 in 8 women have a chance of getting breast cancer. There are currently 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
For me this breast cancer hits close to home as it has impacted lives of those close to me for the good and bad. I can honestly say I think that everything happens for a reason and there is a lesson to be learned from it even if we don't see it in the moment. It is never too early or too late to educate yourself and those in your lives – men included! Breast cancer doesn't just occur in women, men can be diagnosed as well. In fact in the United States in 2013 it is estimated that:
- About 2,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men
- About 410 men will die from breast cancer
I don't know about you but I didn't even realize how large the numbers are.
In comparison with the statistics of women:
1 in 36 women die from breast cancer
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer.
Breast cancer is the second cancer related death after lung cancer.
Asian, Hispanic and Native-American women have the lowest chance of developing breast cancer
15% of women who develop breast cancer have a relative that has been diagnosed.
Symptoms to keep in mind of Breast Cancer
- Note that most people will have no symptoms
- Unexplained change in the breast area.
- Discharge from the nipple.
- A lump in the breast or armpit area.
- Inverted nipple
What can you to NOW? That's simple, an easy breast self-exam can be done at home!
HOW SHOULD A BREAST SELF-EXAM BE PERFORMED?*
1) IN THE SHOWER
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
2) IN FRONT OF A MIRROR
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women's breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3) LYING DOWN
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
Keep in mind that if you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don't panic — 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns. Early detection is the best way to give your family a fighting chance!
How You Can Help
- Start a community fundraiser
- Participate in Relay for Life
- Volunteer to help educate women on breast cancer
- Get checked on a regular basis and encourage others to get checked as well.
- Make a monetary donation to cancer.org
Do you get breast exams on a regular basis or perform self-exams?
*information sourced from www.nationalbreastcancer.org