Early Detection: A Life Saver

In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it appropriate to empower you with some life-saving information about this disease, that remains the second leading cause of death among women. Thankfully, we live in a time where cutting edge research is being done to understand and treat this disease, as well as countless awareness campaigns like the NFL’s A Crucial Catch and Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure. The research shows that early detection is vital to preventing the spread of breast cancer, allowing for a wider range of treatment options and ultimately surviving the disease.

Cancer grows because a cell’s DNA is damaged. While research has not conclusively determined how the DNA is damaged, there are certain risk factors that have been identified as contributing factors. Risk factors that we really don’t have any control over, such as age, race, gender, family history, early menstruation and late menopause, can all contribute to the development of breast cancer. However, there are risk factors that we have control over, such as sedentary lifestyle, poor diet (high in saturated fats), being overweight or obese, and alcohol consumption. It is important to note that 60% of people who develop breast cancer have no connection to any of these risk factors, and other people with risk factors never develop cancer at all. Thus the importance of early detection.

Your first line of defense is making sure you are performing a monthly self exam. According to nationalbreastcancer.org, 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. 40%?! That’s huge!!! If you are not sure what you should be feeling for or even how to perform the exam, their website has an easy to follow tutorial.

The second line of defense is having an annual clinical exam performed by your family physician or GYN. This is so important because as health professionals, they are trained to feel for abnormalities (apparently benign tumors tend to feel different from cancerous tumors), as well as spot signs that appear on the skin covering the breasts, such as a rash or dimpling.

Lastly, the most important and likely the most avoided line of defense is getting an annual mammogram. Ladies please, mammograms are so important because they can catch tumors before they can be felt during a self exam or clinical exam! For women 40 and over, it is recommended that you receive a mammogram once a year. For women younger than 40, you should discuss with your doctor a plan that works for you, given your risk factors.

Let’s not forget about the men. Although breast cancer in men is rare, there are about 2,190 diagnoses each year. That’s less than 1% of all breast cancers that develop. However, the mortality rate for men who develop breast cancer is much higher than it is among women due to the fact that it is so rare. Awareness among men is very low and they tend to go longer without seeking treatment.

Finding a lump in your breast does not automatically mean you have cancer. But, knowledge is power. Better to know your body and know what is normal and what isn’t. YOU are your best advocate! With breast cancer, time is of the essence! EarlyDetectionPlan.org has a great app to remind you to perform your monthly self exam or you are due for a mammogram.

If you are looking for more ways to support Breast Cancer Reseach, check out these boxing glove badge reels I found!

#bcaware

– Lauren @ #teamOCTO

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