October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 255,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in both women and men. While breast cancer is rare amongst men, they represent about one percent of all breast cancer cases.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that causes cells in your breast to multiply out of control. Breast cancer can even potentially spread outside the breast and through your blood and lymph vessels. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized.
Some warning signs of breast cancer can include:
- New lump in your breast or underarm (armpit);
- Thickening or swelling in part of your breast;
- Irritation or dimpling of your breast skin;
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or your breast;
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area;
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood;
- Any change in the size or the shape of your breast; or
- Pain in any area of your breast.
When detected early, breast cancer is treatable and survivable. In fact, currently there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
Regular self-examinations and mammograms are ways to help you lower your risk of breast cancer and find any signs or symptoms such as lumps or changes in size that may be of concern. Review the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women and talk to your healthcare provider about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.
Reduce Your Risk
Together, let's join the effort and encourage our families, friends, and colleagues to take action and stay healthy by following these life-saving steps below:
- Get regular cancer screening tests;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Exercise regularly;
- Eat a healthy diet;
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use;
- Breastfeed your children, if possible; and,
- Limit alcohol.
Contact your physician if you have questions about breast cancer and before you start any new diet or exercise plan. For resources and scientifically accurate information about breast cancer visit the CDC’s breast cancer website.