Breast cancer is a horrible disease. While, in the main, it affects women, it can also occur in men. Both, therefore, need to be aware of what to look for and when to go to the doctor to get something checked out. Since breast cancer is highly prevalent, nobody should think that it won’t happen to them.
About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2014, an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
At the same time, it is important to be aware of the great strides that have been made in breast cancer. The incidents are dropping and survival rates are improving. At the same time, however, it is still one of the deadliest forms of cancer in women, with only lung cancer being more deadly. Although women with a family history of breast cancer are more likely to develop it as well, 85% of cases happen in women where there is no family history of the cancer at all.
How Breast Cancer Is Noticed
In most cases, women start to notice an unusual change in their breast. They then visit the doctor through their own volition. The sooner the cancer is found, the bigger the chances are of beating it. This is why it is so important to check your breasts regularly.
Being Breast Aware – TLC
Everybody should be aware of their body and know it better than anybody else. This is true for each part of the body, not just the breasts, but it is particularly important in the breasts. This is why you must look at them regularly, feel them and speak to your doctor if there is any change at all. Indeed, it is really as simple as giving your breasts some TLC. This stands for both Tender Loving Care and for Touch Look and Check. Touch your breasts to see if you can feel anything that is unusual. Look at them and find out whether the texture or shape has altered. Finally, check with your doctor if you notice anything unusual at all.
You know your body better than anybody else, which means you can also develop your own way of touching your breasts in order to feel for changes. There is no one technique that will work on every woman, so you also don’t have to receive any type of special training. What matters is that you develop a habit and check regularly, for instance when you are in the shower or bath, or even when you are getting dressed.
What to Look for
There are a few things in particular that you should look for.
Lookout for changes that are unusual for you, such as lumps or thickening of breast tissue, continuous pain in a breast or armpit, one breast becoming larger or lower, puckering or dimpling of the skin, nipples becoming inverted (turned in), changing shape or position, nipples developing a rash, crusting or producing discharge, or swelling under the armpits or around the collarbone.
In terms of touching, see if you can find lumps in your breasts, armpits or upper chest. You may also feel unusual thickening or a lumpy area that simply doesn’t go away. Pain is also quite common, particularly in the breasts and armpits. In terms of looking, you will often start to see noticeable differences between the two breasts, also in terms of skin texture, color of the breast and nipple and direction and size of the nipple. Additionally, you may have a discharge from or rash around the nipple. If you do notice anything unusual, you need to get checked out by your physician as soon as possible.
How to Prevent Breast Cancer
There is, unfortunately, no way to be 100% sure that you can prevent breast cancer. Sometimes, women who have done everything right, who have never consumed any harmful substances, who have eaten a healthy diet and took part in frequent exercise, will still develop breast cancer. Indeed, it is now obvious that some women have a genetic mutation that will make it more likely for them to develop the disease. However, there are many things that you can do to significantly reduce the chances of developing breast cancer. At the same time, it is important to remember that you must still be diligent with your TLC.
One thing you can do, as mother, to reduce your chances of breast cancer is to breastfeed for more than one year.
Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year. There is less benefit for women who breastfeed for less than a year, which is more typical for women living in countries such as the United States.
Naturally, eating a healthy diet and taking part in regular physical exercise is very important, as is staying away from toxic habits such as smoking and excessive drinking. Other than that, you could request a genetic DNA test to see whether you are at increased risk of developing the illness. In a recent public story, we saw Angelina Jolie opt for an elective mastectomy, as she did indeed carry the gene.
She leaves us with a message of empowerment and encouragement, to know your family’s medical history, to learn what you can do to protect yourself, to be aware of your body and to screen regularly if you are at high risk.
In more recent news, Angelina has also had her ovaries removed, as she is also at increased risk of ovarian cancer. She is not advocating the removal of healthy tissue. Rather, she is showing that knowing your own body, and researching the risks you are affected by, leave you with medical choices to make that can help you extend your life. As such, choice is a fantastic way to prevent breast cancer: you have a choice to do the right thing.
Remember to share this article with all the people you love, so that they can also learn how to reduce their risk or developing this disease.
Together we can make this world a happier, healthier world!