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Stay Aware this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women, and the risk for diagnosis increases with age. Approximately 82 percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women age 50 or older.

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As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight important facts about breast cancer.

Symptoms of breast cancer

While people can have a difference in symptoms, generally, the warning signs are:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the 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 the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your primary care physician as soon as you can.

Treatment options for breast cancer include surgery to remove all (mastectomy) or part (lumpectomy) of the breast, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy.

It happens to men, too

About 1 in 100 breast cancer cases is diagnosed in a man.

The symptoms are the same as for a woman.

And, men suffering from cirrhosis (liver disease) have an increased risk of breast cancer. Those who also have Klinefelter syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome, are at an increased risk. Other factors include obesity, advanced age, exposure to radiation, and treatments featuring estrogen.

Prevention and screening

To prevent breast cancer, here are some lifestyle recommendations::

  • Regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing or avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Breastfeeding
  • Avoiding prolonged hormone use
  • Limiting radiation exposure

Early detection is vital. Ninety-nine percent of women who detect the cancer early live at least five or more years. Screening begins with a health provider exam and mammogram, before moving on to more exploratory methods including an ultrasound, an MRI and/or biopsy.

It is suggested that women age 50 to 74 get a mammogram every two years, while women 40 to 49 should discuss with their provider on when to start and how often to get a mammogram.

Talk to your provider for more information regarding how to prevent and screen for breast cancer. For more resources, please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or qualified healthcare professional.

Part of being well is being heard.