Every October we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We remember those who have fought the battle with bravery and strength. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a tribute to those who won that battle and those who went down fighting. In America, breast cancer makes up 6.8% of cancer-related deaths. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month millions of lives are saved by early detection programs.
Let’s Learn About Breast Cancer Awareness
If you read our blog posts on important health-related issues, you will see a recurring theme – health education is the only way to stay healthy. For a person to truly embrace a lifestyle that is focused on their wellbeing, they need to listen to their bodies and what to do when things start to go wrong. So, in this light, this Breast Cancer Awareness Month post is here to sum up the most salient facts that you need to know about breast cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
We should learn all we can about breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This way you can be better prepared in the worst case.
Your human body is made up of an infinite amount of tiny cells. These cells are constantly growing and dividing to make new cells while other cells die off. When a problem like cancer occurs sometimes cells begin to mutate. These mutant cells may be harmless. In fact, most mutant cells are recognized and destroyed quickly by your immune system. Sometimes, these cells go unnoticed and begin to grow. They may grow into a mass or tumor and even spread to other areas of the body. This is essentially what cancer is and does.
Cancer is the name we give to the group of diseases caused by abnormal cell growth that forms a mass and invades other tissues. As implied by the name, breast cancer is when this abnormal growth process happens in the breast tissue. Because there are many different ways cells can mutate, there are many different types of breast cancers. This will help us to understand the practical information we will learn this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones This Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Know the Signs!
Different breast cancers may be more or less serious than others, and so the symptoms vary greatly. Some breast cancers don’t display any symptoms at all. However, if there have been any noticeable changes in your breasts, no matter how insignificant you may think it is – please check in with your doctor. Some of the most frequent breast cancer symptoms are:
- A lump in the breast tissue or underarm area. A cancerous lump is usually painless, hard, immovable with uneven borders. This is not always the case – cancerous lumps may be soft, sensitive with round, even borders.
- Swelling of any part of the breast.
- Breast pain
- Irregularities in the nipple – swelling, discharge (not breast milk), and nipple inversion.
- A change in the texture of the skin of the breast or nipple – redness, scaly appearance, or thickening.
Teaching the public these symptoms is a goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Remembering Men This Breast Cancer Awareness Month Too
It is really important to educate everyone about the risks and symptoms of breast cancer this Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While men don’t produce breast milk, both men and women have breast tissue that can develop tumors or cancer. So, even though rare – men still account for less than 1% of breast cancer cases – men can get breast cancer.
Breast cancer is more common in men over fifty years of age and normally presents as a hard lump beneath the nipple area. Other symptoms are similar to those found in women. Because many men believe that they can’t get breast cancer, they often ignore suspicious symptoms until it’s too late. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to encourage everyone, men and women alike – if you have unusual changes in your breast or underarm area, please get it looked at by a qualified healthcare professional.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is essential to teach men that they too are vulnerable to this insidious disease.
To Save Yourself, Check Yourself
Early detection campaigns are a part of what makes Breast Cancer Awareness Month so important. We have two methods of early detection, namely the self-exam and a mammogram. Let’s have a look at each.
Experts recommend that women of all ages and men over 50-years-old should do a breast self-exam at least once a month. It is something we need to teach everyone about during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is essential because over 40% of breast cancers are diagnosed after the patient finds a lump.
Regular checks are important for two reasons. Firstly, the more often you check the more likely you will find the lump whilst it is still in the early stages. Secondly, regular checks help you to become familiar with your body, allowing you to pick up even the slightest of changes.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to teach the public how to perform a breast self-exam and refresh the memories of those who already know how. There are three steps to performing a self-exam:
Step 1: In the Shower
Whilst in the shower, use the pads of your fingers to feel the breast and armpit for any abnormalities. Alternate between gentle, moderate, and firm pressure. These abnormalities range depending on each person’s anatomy. More common abnormalities include a lump, thickening, or a hardened knot.
Step 2: Looking in the Mirror
This part of the self-exam is a visual inspection. Stand in front of a mirror with your hands by your side and raise your arms over your head. Inspect the breast for any differences in shape, dimpling, or swollen areas. After this, put your hands on your chest and flex your chest muscles. Don’t worry if your breasts are not exactly the same size – this is completely normal as very few women have symmetrical breasts. So, you’re not looking for size difference but rather you’re looking for any other changes such as puckering or dimpling. Take special note if the changes are on one side.
Step 3: Lying on Your Back
Lie on your back so that the breast spreads out evenly over your chest wall. This is another tactile assessment but we will be working on one side and then moving to the other. Place a pillow under the right shoulder and put your right arm above your head. Using the same technique as in the shower examine the breast with the fingertips of your left hand. Make sure that you check the entire breast and underarm area. Next, squeeze the nipple and check for discharge and lumps. Then repeat this process on the left-hand side.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the goal is to save lives by educating people on proper breast anatomy and how to make sure that their breasts are healthy. Breast Cancer Awareness Month saves millions of lives by teaching women all over the world to do these easy checks.
When to Get a Mammogram?
Mammograms are a specialized x-ray of the breast. They are the gold standard in early breast cancer screening because you can see a lump on an x-ray that is too small to be felt. Experts recommend that women get a routine mammogram done at least every two years, if not every year after the age of 40.
Once the radiologist takes the image of your breast, they give it a BI-RADS score from 0-6. This score indicates the health of the breast tissue. Briefly, the scores mean:
- A score of 0 indicates that the scan is blurry and needs to be redone.
- A score of 1-2 indicates no cancerous signs
- A score 3 indicates the possibility of cancer and require a biopsy
- A score 4-5 indicates a probability of cancer
- A score of 6 only occurs when a mammogram is used to confirm a breast cancer diagnosis.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we should make ourselves familiar with the mammogram and how to understand them.
Decreasing Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Scoop Health wants you to know that you are not alone this Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are committed to our members’ health. The costs of yearly mammograms are sharable as is the cost of cancer treatment.
Almost half of all cancer cases are preventable. Luckily, preventative measures are aligned with living a healthy lifestyle – which all Scoop Health members commit to. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is as much about preventing breast cancer as it’s about early detection. Here are some chief lifestyle changes to make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
- Stop all tobacco use including smoking, chewing, and second-hand use.
- Maintain a healthy weight with regular physical activity and a healthy diet with high fiber. High fiber diets have been shown to be particularly effective in preventing breast cancer.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption – this has shown to be related to several different types of cancer.
These lifestyle modifications should reduce the chances of many types of cancers, not only breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not just about fighting breast cancers but all types of cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an important part of our health calendar. There is no telling how many lives are saved each and every year through education and early detection programs. What we do know is that at Scoop Health, we are here to see you through no matter the challenge. Your medical cost sharing community will be right beside you. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to focus our energies on supporting each other through the biggest health scares – even something as serious as cancer.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at Scoop Health would like to extend our love and admiration to all of those who are fighting this terrible battle and those who have fought.