Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed a trend for the month of October. Everywhere you look you will find the color PINK – from your favorite foods to footwear on the players in the NFL. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with a friend currently in her own fight with this disease, it is near and dear to my heart. I wanted to take a few minutes on this, the first day of October, to raise your awareness a bit about this disease. Thankfully, none of my immediate family members have been diagnosed but the general statistics are staggering and I’m sure many of you have not been as fortunate.
- Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most widely diagnosed cancer among women in the United States and makes up approximately 30% of all women’s cancer diagnoses. The death rate for women from breast cancer is second only to lung cancer.
- It is estimated that 1 in 8 women (approximately 12%) will be develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.
- In 2015, almost 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 60,000 cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States alone.
- Men aren’t immune to this disease either. This year, about 2,350 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men, putting their risk at about 1 in 1000.
- While the rate of death from breast cancer has been dropping over the past 25 years, thanks in part to improved treatments, advanced detection and increased awareness, around 40,290 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year. To put that into perspective, that’s approximately the number it would take to fill many of the major league baseball parks in America. U.S.Cellular Field in Chicago, where the Chicago White Sox play, holds 40,615 and Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, holds just over 41,000. (source, source)
I don’t know about you, but these kinds of statistics scare me. When I think about my family members, friends, co-workers and especially my daughter, the thought that of every 8 of us, 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer is frightening. The greatest risk factors for developing breast cancer are gender (being a female) and age (growing older) and while breast cancer is also related to genetics and genetic mutations (either inherited or developed over the course of aging), there are some things you can do to reduce or risk or catch it in it’s earliest stages.
- Limit alcohol, don’t smoke, and control your weight.
- Be physically active.
- Breast feed.
- Limit the duration of hormone therapy.
- Reduce exposure to radiation and environmental toxins.
- Take advantage of early detection examinations – most insurance companies cover regular physicals and mammograms. I just had mine and this year I was diagnosed as having “dense tissue”. While I technically still have a clean bill of health, this increases my risk of breast cancer and makes detection more difficult. Right now it is just additional information for my doctor and he may choose to use a method other than mammogram in the future for my screenings but since I have no family history or other high risk factors, my yearly squish is all I probably need. If you don’t have insurance, there may be agencies in your area which provide routine screenings for uninsured women. Just do a little research in your area.
- Know your own breasts. Take note of any physical changes and perform breast self-exams every month. If you have any suspicion that something seems “off”, go see your doctor. (source, source)
Having a little bit of knowledge and knowing your risk factors may significantly improve your life in the future or that of someone you love. Control what you can and be proactive with your healthy. The girls you save may be your own.
(Visited 36 times, 4 visits today)
Bari is an avid runner and sometime triathlete, learning the importance of training smart but also having fun. She loves to share a good beer with friends and has been known to host virtual toasts on Twitter. When she isn’t running, biking, swimming, or trying to lift heavy things, she’s playing on her phone or trying to figure out how to pay for college for her twins who graduate in 2015. Bari lives in West Michigan and loves to encourage new runners and triathletes to reach their goals.