Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to bring awareness to a cancer that affects more women than any other. At Qvita Health and Wellness, we hope to promote screenings and prevention of this disease.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day
October 13 is nationally recognized in the United States as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. About 30% of early-stage breast cancers eventually metastasize (spread to parts of the body away from the breast), and the day is intended to drive awareness of the need for more research about metastatic disease.
Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week
Although breast cancer is far more common in women, it affects men too. In 2021, President Joe Biden designated October 17-23rd Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week. About 2171 American men are expected to be diagnosed and around 500 to die from the disease.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women.
- Black women are most likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group. Experts believe that it’s partially because about 1 in 5 Black women is diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, more than any other racial or ethnic group.
- About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
Since 2019, we are seeing a variety of cancers in younger and younger people. Breast Cancer is being seen at the highest rate in comparison to others cancers on the rise. Therefore home self-breast exams done once a month can be helpful to detect any disease early.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
- Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
- Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
- A newly inverted nipple
- Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
- Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange
Inherited Breast Cancer
A number of inherited mutated genes that can increase the likelihood of breast cancer have been identified. The most well-known are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), both of which significantly increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer or other cancers, your health care provider may recommend a blood or saliva test to help identify specific mutations in BRCA or other genes that are being passed through your family.
Factors that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer include (Mayo Clinic):
- Being female.Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer.
- Increasing age.Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age.
- A personal history of breast conditions.If you've had a breast biopsy that found lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia of the breast, you have an increased risk of breast cancer.
- A personal history of breast cancer.If you've had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other breast.
- A family history of breast cancer.If your mother, sister or daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly at a young age, your risk of breast cancer is increased. Still, the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
- Inherited genes that increase cancer risk.Certain gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer can be passed from parents to children. The most well-known gene mutations are referred to as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they don't make cancer inevitable.
- Radiation exposure.If you received radiation treatments to your chest as a child or young adult, your risk of breast cancer is increased.
- Being obese increases your risk of breast cancer.
- Beginning your period at a younger age.Beginning your period before age 12 increases your risk of breast cancer.
- Beginning menopause at an older age.If you began menopause at an older age, you're more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Having your first child at an older age.Women who give birth to their first child after age 30 may have an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Having never been pregnant.Women who have never been pregnant have a greater risk of breast cancer than do women who have had one or more pregnancies.
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy.Women who take hormone therapy medications that combine synthetic estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer decreases when women stop taking these medications.
Annual mammograms are recommeded starting at age 40. Starting sooner is advised with a positive inherited gene or family history of breast or related cancer. Schedule with your OB/GYN or Primary Care Provider for an exam and recommendations on when you should start screening.
Thankfully, many diagnostic facilities are making access to mammograms easier the entire month of October. If you do not have insurance, many facilities are charging as low as $50 for a mammogram. Call us at Qvita Health and Wellness or your local diagnostic facility or hospital for details.
This information is provided by Breastcancer.org, Mayo Clinic