Breast Cancer Awareness Month
In recent weeks, you may have seen people around town wearing more pink. That’s because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). Possibly one of the most well-known health awareness campaigns in the country—if not the world—BCAM has been going strong for 33 years! The campaign seeks to get as many people as possible “involved in raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research.” There are many things you can do to get involved, including hosting a fundraiser and print and hang posters.
It’s an extremely important health concern for women, as 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with it. To help promote awareness, we thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the top questions we get about breast cancer, as well as the answers.
What is breast cancer?
We’ve all heard the term, but some may not know exactly what it is. Essentially, breast cancer is when malignant, cancerous cells form in the tissues of the breast.
What causes breast cancer?
Unfortunately, like many cancers, the causes of breast cancer are unknown. However, there are many articles online that might suggest things like standing close to a microwave, keeping your cell phone close to your chest, or even drinking too much caffeine can cause cancer. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, these are all false. That said, there are a number of risk factors you should be aware of, including:
- Genetic: If your family has a history of breast cancer be sure to get checked early and often.
- Physical: Having dense breast tissue can increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Menstrual: Women who experience early menstruation or late menopause are often at higher risk.
- Health history: If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer previously in one breast, there’s a significant risk that it will develop in the other breast.
- Lifestyle: Women who lead sedentary lifestyles, consume alcohol frequently, or are overweight or obese all carry greater risks of breast cancer.
How do I detect it?
First, it’s important to know that the earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of beating it. That means getting checked regularly—both by a professional but also by yourself.
To check yourself, you should gently feel all parts of your breasts, including underneath, in the upper chest area, and even near your armpits. You certainly want to look and feel for lumps, but also try to notice if anything looks unusual, such as a change in shape, size, or position. You may also look for changes to your skin texture and color, as they can also be indicators.
Of course, it’s always best to be checked by a medical professional as well.
What are the treatment options?
There are many treatment options, and the course one patient takes will greatly depend on what type of cancer they have and how advanced the cancer is. Typical treatments can include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. To be sure, most treatments are not easy to do, and that’s why we often consult with oncologists to help patients manage any pain and side effects they may be experiencing as a result of treatment.
Are there things I can do to avoid getting breast cancer?
As we mentioned above, we still don’t know what causes breast cancer, which makes it difficult to say “Do this, but don’t do that.” No two women and their cases are exactly alike.
That said, there are some things you can do on a daily basis to ensure an overall healthy lifestyle. These include:
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet
- Getting a sufficient amount of exercise (at least 20 minutes rigorous every day)
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol to excess
- Maintain a healthy weight for your age and height
- Reduce or avoid exposure to radiation
If you are experiencing pain, we can help.
If you’re concerned about breast cancer, we’re here to listen and to help. Please call Pain and Spine Specialists in Maryland at 301.703.8767, or 724-603-3560 in Pennsylvania to schedule a consultation or use the contact form on our website to send us a message.