For over 30 years, October has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That means it’s time to get out your pink and get involved in raising awareness about breast cancer. Here at Advanced Dermatology and Laser Institute of Seattle, we just love to see the signs of support everywhere—from community happenings to our favorite TV shows to sporting events. But there’s still so much work to be done. That’s why we’re taking a closer look at this disease and what you can do about it.
The Stats on Breast Cancer
The most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. It’s also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. This year alone, more than 252,700 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. and more than 40,500 people will die from this disease. That works out to one breast cancer diagnosis every two minutes and one death from it every 13 minutes. But it’s not just women who suffer either. Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with it this year.
How to Detect the Signs and Symptoms
Those numbers certainly provide a sobering reality. But just because the data may seem daunting, you’re not at all helpless when it comes to breast cancer—and early detection is the key. While breast cancer cannot yet be prevented, discovering it early can make all the difference. It can truly give you the best chance for an effective and successful treatment.
Many of breast cancer’s symptoms cannot be detected without a professional screening like a mammogram or ultrasound. However, there are some signs that can be felt or seen when regularly checking up on your own breast health. These include:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- A fluid discharge from the nipple.
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola.
- Other changes or unusual developments.
If you do find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. But above all, don’t panic! Most lumps turn out to be non-cancerous. In fact, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, four out of five lumps are benign.
How Often to Check
You should be conducting a self-exam every single month. It’s best to perform it seven to ten days after your menstrual cycle. That’s when the breasts are the least tender and lumpy. You should also schedule a visit to the doctor once a year for a clinical breast check. In addition, women aged 40 and older are recommended to go in for a mammogram every year. The more proactive you are in screening for breast cancer, the more likely you are to catch it early on.
Ways to Get Involved Here in Seattle, WA
If you’d like to help in the fight against this all-too-common disease, there are so many ways to contribute. You can donate to organizations like the National Breast Cancer Foundation or the Susan G. Komen foundation. These leading institutions fight each and every day to better understand breast cancer and how to treat it. They also provide services like mammograms and support for those who may be struggling to obtain proper medical resources.
You can also work to raise awareness by sharing your breast cancer story with friends and loved ones. Whether you do so in person or on your favorite social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, this can be a big difference maker in someone’s life. And there are so many ways to be actively involved, like walks, runs, and events to show your support.