Each October, our nation observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Based on data prepared by BreastCancer.org, within the next 12 months, some 230,000 women and 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in America. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we recognize all those who have experienced the anguish associated with breast cancer and amplify ongoing efforts to improve care and bring attention to this disease. I’ve read that dogs don’t get breast cancer but we can contract tumors in our mammary glands.
According to the American Cancer Society, “Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells can’t do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.”
The American Cancer Society defines breast cancer as, “a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.”
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.
- The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 1 in 36 (about 3%).
- About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- Boys and girls are born with breast cells and tissue which have the potential of developing into cancer.
- Of those diagnosed, about 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.
- The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the developing world, possibly due to increased life expectancy, increased urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles.
Fortunately, there is good news. (Whew. I was beginning to wonder!) There are currently more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including women currently being treated as well as those who have completed treatment. When breast cancer is caught early, treatments are highly successful and survival rates increase. That IS good news. In fact, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1989, with the most significant statistical decreases in women who are younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of early detection through screening, increased awareness, and improved treatment.
10 Steps to take to reduce your risk of breast cancer
- Maintain a healthy weight. Seems like a good idea even aside from cancer risk.
- Stay physically active. I can always get behind this!
- Limit how much alcohol you drink. Water is always a healthy choice. I like mine in a bowl.
- Follow a healthy diet. I think healthy diets can include lots of bacon.
- Seek alternative methods for hormone replacement therapy.
- If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Breastfeed your baby.
- Consider taking part in clinical trials.
- Find out if you have genetic risk factors. (The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.) If you have inherited a mutated copy of either gene from a parent, you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. Discuss possible genetic testing, which can identify mutations, with your physician.
- Schedule regular mammograms. Ask your doctor about recommended frequency
Whether you or someone you know has breast cancer, or if you would just like to support the effort to increase awareness about the disease, we hope you will find a way to “go pink on purpose for breast cancer” this month. To support the cause, we have “gone pink on purpose” on the RJW social media networks.
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