Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, and it is the major cause of death from cancer for women aged between 30 and 60 years. However, studies have shown that if the breast cancer has been detected in the early stages, it can be very effectively treated.

So, breast cancer awareness takes an important place to overcome this disease. There are many events and foundations to raise breast cancer awareness. Two of these are the National Breast Cancer Foundation and American Breast Cancer Society, providing help and inspiration to those affected by breast cancer by early detection, education, and support services. October is also considered as the “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” in which pink ribbons (breast cancer awareness ribbon) are delivered to everyone to increase breast cancer awareness.

Make a difference, spread the word about early detection and raise awareness not within a day, not within a week, but during the whole month!

READ: Self-Examination of Breast Cancer – Why Is It So Important?

Early Detection Can Save Your Life

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. The good news is that many women survive breast cancer thanks to early detection. When a woman finds her breast cancer early (stage 1), there is a 95% success rate for treatment. And breast cancer is treated easily with pills instead of chemotherapy and painful radiation therapy when detected in stage 1. The first step of early detection is breast self-examination. Breast self-examination can be accepted as a useful and important screening tool, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor, mammography, and in some cases ultrasound and/or MRI.

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror to see if there are any breast cancer symptoms or signs such redness, soreness, rash or swelling around your breasts or your nipples and examine your breasts with your hands to feel if there is a lump or cyst, or none. If you notice any changes in your breasts, contact your doctor immediately. The second step is to have a mammography test done. Mammography is an X-ray of the breast and is the most effective way to detect breast cancer. If a tumor is detected in your mammography, then the last step is a breast biopsy, in which a small piece of the suspected tumor is taken from your breast and is examined pathologically to see if the tumor or cells are cancerous or non-cancerous. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening beginning at age 45 for each woman. If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend you to start screenings earlier and increase its frequency.

Men Are at Risk of Breast Cancer Too

While more common in women, men also can get breast cancer. Although its size and development are different than women, men have breast tissue as well, and this means that they can get breast cancer, too.

Men are at risk if they have certain risks factors including a family history of breast cancer. However, male breast cancer is very rare and less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, which means that only one in a thousand men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

READ: Breast Cancer Myths vs. Facts

What Causes Breast Cancer?

There are a wide variety of factors that increase the risk to have breast cancer. The most effective risk factor causing breast cancer is the family history of breast cancer, which means that if you have several blood relatives that have or had breast cancer, then you might have an increased risk of developing the disease. Another factor that affects breast cancer risk is a lifestyle. Inactivity, consuming unhealthy food and alcohol, taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), being overweight and smoking might increase your risk to have breast cancer. By making small healthy changes and living well, you can lower your risk of getting breast cancer. This is not a guarantee that you won’t develop breast cancer, but leading a healthy lifestyle provides you a better chance.

Also, the genes you inherit from your parents, and the characteristics of your body might affect your risk of developing breast cancer. Aging, being female, having high breast density, late menopause, and early puberty are some of the most common genetic factors affecting breast cancer risk.

READ: Does Being Overweight Increase Cancer Risk?

8 Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk and Maintain a Breast Cancer Care

Although you can’t change some breast cancer risk factors, such as getting older or your family history, you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by maintaining care for yourself in the following ways.

  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Limit alcohol
  • Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
  • Eat Healthy
  • Know your family cancer history
  • Minimize radiation exposure from screening tests

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This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in April 2019.

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