Today marks the 25th anniversary of Breast Cancer Awareness month. No doubt you have been personally affected by this disease – a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife or you yourself may be a survivor. I have had friends and family who have died from ∫. My first cousin had a double mastectomy in her early 40’s due to breast cancer.
The same disease took her mother’s life. Though the odds of dying from breast cancer are decreasing, the presence of this devastating disease is a sobering reality that all women (and men) must face. It is estimated that 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer will occur in women in 2010; about 1,970 new cases are expected in men. (Invasive cancers can spread cancer to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymphatic system.)
Additionally, an estimated 54,010 new cases of in situ, or non-invasive breast cancer, are expected to occur among women in 2010. (In situ breast cancers do not spread to the surrounding tissues in the breast or other parts of the body.
They can, however, develop into or raise your risk for a more serious, invasive cancer.) A disturbing fact to me is that since 1988, in situ breast cancer has been stable in white women and increasing in black women. An estimated 40,230 breast cancer deaths (39,840 women, 390 men) are expected in 2010 (American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2009-2010). Age is the most important risk factor for breast cancer. Family history of breast cancer also increases risk of developing breast cancer.
Your risk factor for breast cancers increases if you are overweight or obese, are physically inactive or consume one or more alcoholic beverages per day. However, those risks can be modified with a balanced lifestyle. Early detection has been a key factor in the decrease of the incidence of breast cancer from 1999-2006. Regular mammograms and monthly self-exams are important for early detection of breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more effective the treatment.
It’s advisable for women to exercise and maintain a moderate weight. Breastfeeding can also lower your risk. Everyone can contribute resources toward finding a cure – whether it’s participating in a walk-a-thon or volunteering in a capacity that benefits cancer survivors.
I have been a volunteer for “Look Good…Feel Better” for several years. This organization helps women to look as “normal” as possible after their bodies have been ravaged by both cancer and treatments by assisting them with wigs, skin care and makeup. As with so many causes, we tend to forget about them once the momentum has died down. Let’s not forget about breast cancer until next October.