Breast Cancer Awareness Month falls in October each year, and its purpose is to raise awareness about the disease that kills over a half million people each year. Researchers are working to find the cause of breast cancer, as well as to improve knowledge about how to diagnose, treat, prevent, and cure it.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that develops when breast cells grow uncontrollably within the breast tissue. It can also metastasize, or spread outside the breast, typically following the lymph vessels and blood vessels.
Cancer can develop in any part of the breast. While there are several kinds of breast cancer, there are two that are more common than the others: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma.
Additionally, this isn’t just a women’s disease, even though it’s more common to hear about it in reference to women. Men can also get breast cancer; it’s just rarer in men.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Knowing breast cancer risk factors and the symptoms to watch for can help you catch this disease as early as possible. Some of the risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Dense breast tissue
- Hormone therapy
- Personal or family history of breast cancer
- Previous radiation therapy
- Sedentary lifestyle
A lump is one of the common symptoms of breast cancer. However, numerous other things can be warning signs. Other symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Breast pain
- Dimpled breast skin
- Lymph node swelling under the arm
- Lymph node swelling under the collar bone
- Nipple pain
- Nipple discharge
- Red, crusty skin
- Retracted nipple
Breast Cancer Checks and Screenings
Women should ideally perform monthly self-exams to check for signs of breast cancer. Self-exams are an essential tool to use along with a yearly mammogram to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. There are also some other breast cancer screening options your doctor might suggest.
These other breast screening options include breast ultrasounds and breast MRIs. Additionally, there are some newer, experimental breast imaging techniques doctors may recommend, and if a lump is found, your doctor might suggest a breast biopsy to determine if the lump is benign or cancerous.
When to See a Doctor to Discuss Breast Cancer
If you notice any of the warning signs of breast cancer, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Your doctor can schedule you for tests, such as a mammogram or breast MRI, to determine if your symptoms are indeed cancer or if something else is causing them.
If your doctor finds a lump, a biopsy may also be advised. Early detection leads to early treatment, improving your prognosis and potentially saving your life.
While October is the official National Breast Cancer Awareness month, it pays to be aware of breast health all year round. You can help support the cause of raising awareness about breast cancer with certain BCRF (Breast Cancer Research Foundation) pink products and healthcare items – whether it’s October or any other month of the year.
Check out Simply Medical for all the home healthcare supplies and essentials you need.