If you’re a woman you need to know about BREAST CANCER. You cannot turn on tv this month or be out and about without seeing pink ribbons, shirts and even NFL players wearing bright pink accessories. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month because more than 230,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 40,000 will die of the disease, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Last year at this time my cousin had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was in the midst of treatments. The cancer was caught early and after surgery to remove the cancer and some lymph nodes, she is still taking Tamoxifen and having regular check ups. During her treatments she has lost her hair, was sick almost every week after treatment, and had numerous other battles with her port, her blood count and her white cell count. However, she is now a survivor. Her mother, my aunt, had breast cancer at 54 and is also a survivor. She is currently 67 years old. She was also on Tamoxifen for 5 years. My aunt did not find her lump herself but it was found by mammogram.
I had been putting off my mammogram for two years (It is recommended that you start having yearly mammograms at age 40), thinking I could avoid it, but after my cousin’s news I got on the phone and had an appointment scheduled for the following week. The fears I had about any hurt or embarrasment for me was insignificant as my mammogram appointment time coincided with my cousin’s surgery. I was even called back for a re-check, and I was thankful they were sure I was clear. I NEEDED TO KNOW.
From personal experience, I compare the mammogram to a blood pressure cuff. It hurts for a very short time, no matter if your arm is thin or thick, but it is necessary to see if things are right inside your body. The embarrassment from exposing your breast, as opposed to your arm, is minimal as most facilities have dim lighting, a private room, and provide you with a nice little robe to cover yourself except for the few moments of the actual mammogram.
Department Secretary Kathleen Sebeluis said in a statement that regular mammography screening “can help lower breast cancer mortality by finding breast cancer early, when the chance of successful treatment is best.”
Consider this: “If 90 percent of women 40 and older received breast cancer screening, 3,700 lives would be saved.”
The most common risk factors:
- Sex. The highest risk factor for breast cancer is being female; the disease is about 100 times more common among women.
- Age. The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman grows older. The risk is especially high for women age 60 and older. Breast cancer is uncommon in women younger than age 35, although it does occur. There is some evidence to suggest young African American women are at greater risk for breast cancer than young Caucasian women.
- Personal History. Women who have had breast cancer and women with a history of breast disease (not cancer, but a condition that may predispose them to cancer) may develop it again.
- Family History. The risk of developing breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives have had the disease. It is important to know how old they were at the time they were diagnosed.
- The Breast Cancer Genes. Some individuals, both women and men, may be born with an “alteration” (or change) in one of two genes that are important for regulating breast cell growth. Individuals who inherit an alteration in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at an “inherited” higher risk for breast cancer. They also may pass this alteration on to their children. It is very rare. Scientists estimate that only about 5-10 percent of all breast cancers are due to genetic changes. One out of two women with these changes are likely to develop breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer are encouraged to speak to a genetics counselor to determine the pros and cons of genetic testing.
CALL TODAY and make an appointment for a mammogram or check up.
Your family needs you to know.
YOU NEED TO KNOW.