You have probably heard of it, maybe even dread it, or perhaps you have not given it much thought, but whatever your stance may be, it is time you are aware and vigilant of it. Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer and the commonest among American women. But the upside to it is that this is one cancer type that can be detected at a very early stage.
1. Where and How to Look?
You do not have to be alarmed, just cautious. Unlike other cancers, patients can themselves be conscious and take the necessary steps to prevent or detect breast cancer at an early stage. Cancer is the uncontrolled division of cells; breast cancer is a growth in your breasts, which, if not detected at the right time, can spread to other parts of your body.
2. You May Be at Risk If..
Aside from the obvious fact that being a woman puts you at risk, a family history of breast cancer can also cause disease contraction. But then again, the numbers are only high if you have inherited the mutated gene BRCA1 or BRCA2. And yes, no one is fond of getting older, so sorry to make things harder for you, but the chances of breast cancer development are certainly higher as you grow older. That is why it is recommended to start screening for breast cancer as early as 40 years. Although it is rare, it can occur in men, too, so no one is really spared. Other risk factors include: White ethnicity, having dense breast tissue, or a previous history of radiation therapy.
3. Be Your Own Doctor
Okay, maybe not a doctor exactly, but you could most definitely monitor yourself. As women, we need to be aware of our bodies. In this day and age, when so many different infectious and non-infectious diseases are lurking, we must be able to identify the smallest change in our physique. Do not be dismayed; we got you, girl! So here are some of the things you should look out for:
* Are you experiencing any kind of pain or tenderness in your breasts?
* Is there any recent change in the size or shape of your breasts?
* Can you feel a lump in your breasts?
* Is there any sort of discharge other than breast milk?
Not all lumps are cancerous, so even if you detect something during your self-examination, the probability of it being a malignant condition is pretty low.
Suppose you do not have any of these signs, but you do feel something is off, or you just want to be sure, it is always a good idea to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. Studies say that women above the age of forty should have regular check-ups. If you start your check-ups as early as your thirties, all the better! A check-up does not necessarily mean you prevent the disease; it helps to detect it at an early stage and therefore makes treatment easier.
4. Keep It at Bay
It is always better to be self-aware and make sure you lead a healthy and fit life to prevent these cancer-causing tricksters from getting you. Here are some changes you can make in your lifestyle in order to lower the risk of contracting the condition – maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly; avoid or minimize alcohol; breastfeed your child, if possible, for up to a year; and if you are taking birth control pills or any other hormone-altering therapy, consult your doctor about the risks. Some of these steps may make you think life is just not fair. But in the long run, these are steps that have multiple benefits and enable you to lead a healthy lifestyle.
October is known as the pink month, given its designation as breast cancer awareness month. And so, the awareness takeaway for this month is – A healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of breast cancer, proper screening can help detect the disease early, and a positive attitude can contribute to overcoming cancer sooner. Mind over matter, ladies that is what really matters!