Why Breast Cancer Awareness Is Important

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been celebrated every October since the nineties. It is often called “Pink October” because people embrace pink in their attire or add pink ribbons to their outfits to help raise awareness about the importance of prevention and regular screening for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women in the United States except for skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Other quick facts about the disease include:

  • 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer.
  • 1 in 38 women die from breast cancer.
  • It’s estimated that approximately 23,700 women will die from breast cancer in 2023.
  • Only 9% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women 45 and under.

For people affected by breast cancer, October isn’t the only time to educate ourselves and spread awareness. The disease is complicated and these numbers remind us of the proactive measures we need to embrace.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast(s). Cancer occurs when cells begin to grow out of control, and can quickly spread. Breast cancer primarily occurs in women, however, men can be diagnosed with breast cancer as well.

Most breast cancers start in the ducts or lobules. Breast cancer can spread when the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph system and then are carried to other parts of the body. When the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized, which can mean stage IV cancer.


Kinds of Breast Cancer

The most common forms of breast cancer are:

  1. Invasive ductal carcinoma: The cancer cells begin in the ducts and then grow to other parts of the breast tissue; they can spread or metastasize to other parts of the body.
  2. Invasive lobular carcinoma: These cancer cells begin in the lobules and then spread to the nearby breast tissues. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
  3. Other forms of breast cancer include Paget’s disease, medullary, mucinous, and inflammatory breast cancer.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Every individual should know how their breasts normally look and feel so they can recognize any changes. Aside from knowing what to look for, regular mammograms and clinical breast exams are important ways to test for breast cancer before any symptoms occur. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

Signs of breast cancer may include:

  • New lump in the breast or armpit.
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Dimpling or skin irritation of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk (may include blood).
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast.

These symptoms can occur with other conditions that are less serious than cancer, but it’s important to see a doctor right away to rule out any concerns. It’s important to note that no breast is typical and your breasts may be affected by getting your period, having children, aging, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications.


What Else Could These Symptoms Mean?

While cancer can cause lumps in the breast, there are other medical conditions that may cause common benign lumps. Two common causes of breast lumps include fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic breast condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that may make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast and other parts of the body.


Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The main, uncontrollable risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman and aging. The older a woman is, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. Most breast cancers are found in women 55 and older. Other uncontrollable factors that may increase risk include family history, race, breast density, and personal menstrual history. Lifestyle-related risk factors include certain birth control pills, hormone therapy after menopause, having children, and having a poor diet and poor active lifestyle. Making smart lifestyle choices can help lower the controllable risk factors of developing breast cancer.


How to Lower the Risk

To help lower the risk of breast cancer, you should consider the following:

  • Remain at a healthy weight.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Reduce adipose (fat) tissue.
  • Monitor vital nutrient levels like Vitamin D.
  • Limit alcohol intake.

Proactive measures to help detect breast cancer early on include performing regular breast self-exams, annual women’s health exams, and getting screened regularly.


Breast Cancer Screening 

Breast cancer screening means checking the breasts for cancer before there are any signs or symptoms of the disease. While breast cancer screening cannot prevent the cancer, it can help find the disease earlier on when it is easiest to treat. The American Cancer Society recommends that women aged 45-54 should get mammograms done every year and then switch to every other year after the age of 55.

The types of breast cancer screenings include:

  • Mammograms: an X-ray exam of the breast used to detect and evaluate breast changes. The machines take pictures of thin slices of the breast from different angles and computer software reconstructs the image. Detection ability may depend on tumor size and breast tissue density.
  • Breast ultrasound: commonly used alongside mammography for high-risk women who cannot undergo an MRI or have dense breast tissues.
  • Breast MRI: may be used to screen high-risk women and gather more information about questionable areas found on a mammogram or an ultrasound.

Nova Vita Solutions

Nova Vita is here to help you be proactive about your health. If you have a family history of breast cancer, are concerned about your risk factors, or just want to make sure you are as healthy as possible, Nova Vita medical professionals are there to complement your regular health care and screenings. Our curated lab panels, IV Vitamin infusions, and weight management programs were designed to help each patient get on their path to wellness.

Nova Vita Wellness Centers routinely sponsor HerScan breast ultrasound screenings that are capable of detecting cancers that cannot be found by mammography and physical exams alone. In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our Cedar Park location will host Her Scan on Wednesday, October 18 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. You can book your appointment online today.


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