One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes and one woman will die of breast cancer every thirteen minutes in the U.S. This is very sad but true. People know that it happens, but it’ll never happen to them, until it hits close to home. There are precautions that women can take to lower their risk of developing the disease. Knowing what to look for can save a life as far as early detection. The best thing that anyone can do is to educate themselves so that they are aware of signs and symptoms. It can start with looking up some tips online or talking to a health care professional. However, it is important to verify that the online source is credible and accurate. Being aware of preventative measures and making wise health decisions can be the difference between being cancer free, having cancer, and being in remission. It is very important to take preventative measures when it comes to breast cancer. Taking these measures can significantly lower the risk of developing the disease and help to catch the disease at an earlier stage. According to Chain Drug Review (10/25/2010), in the United States, breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. The first step to prevention is becoming familiar with the body. It is important to have that familiarity, so that if a change does occur, it will be noticed immediately. Self-examinations are highly recommended in all ages, but especially for women under the age of 40. If self-examinations seem complicated, feel free to talk with a health care provider to discuss some techniques. Cancer.org recommends that women over the age of 40 get a mammogram examination once every 1-2 years. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast that can look for cancer in someone with no symptoms or that will determine whether or not a lump is cancerous. A mammogram is a great tool used for early detection. Another way to take preventative measures is to eliminate some risk factors. The best way to do this is to determine personal controllable risks. Keep in mind that not all risks can be controlled. A risk factor is a variable associated with an increased risk of disease or infection. Some risk factors are controllable and can even be eliminated, while others cannot be controlled. Controllable risk factors of breast cancer include smoking, drinking alcohol, and diet. Smoking and drinking are not in any way beneficial to health. They can actually increase one’s risk of developing the disease. Someone who has 2-5 drinks daily has 1 ½ times the risk than someone who does not drink alcohol. The chemicals found in tobacco can reach breast tissue and are found in breast milk. Diet also plays an important role in overall health. Poor diet can also lead to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Luckily these risk factors are controllable; they can be monitored, altered, and eliminated. There are some risk factors that cannot be controlled. Family history, age, and gender fit into this category. If breast cancer is common within family history, then there is an increased risk of developing the disease. Having one first degree relative with breast cancer doubles the risk and having two first degree relatives triple the risk. Age also plays an important role. According to the American Cancer Society 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, while about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older. In other words, increased age equals increased risk. Gender is a key factor when dealing with this disease. Most people don’t know that breast cancer is not gender specific. Although cancer is 100 more times likely to occur in women, men are not excluded from developing the disease. Men have a much lower risk of developing the disease than women due to lower estrogen levels. It is imperative that risk factors are determined so that proper actions can be taken according to risk levels. The best way to stay ahead of breast cancer is to make wise health decisions. One of the best ways to do this is to develop a relationship with a primary care physician or another health care professional. Developing a relationship will make it easier to express concerns without withholding any information. Many people find that talking to a doctor makes an uncomfortable situation, but when a relationship is in place that comfort ability will come. It is also necessary to participate in yearly examinations. A doctor may be able to spot an abnormality that a patient may have missed. Doctors can also recommend measures to be taken based on total risk. Making oneself aware of treatment options is also helpful. According to the AWHONN Position Statement (June 2010), lack of access to health care corresponds with less timely cancer screening and cancer diagnosis at more advanced stages. If doubts arise the best thing to do would be to get a second opinion. It is better to be sure of the state of one’s health than to be doubtful. Breast cancer is a relentless disease that is taking out one woman every thirteen minutes in the U.S. It is time for those numbers to change. According to the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer estimate for 2013 about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. Doctors are working tirelessly to find a cure, but until then the patients must take on the responsibility of making wise health choices. The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses strongly encourages all women to take an active role in monitoring their own breast health. If a concern arises, feel free to speak with a health professional. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and that concern just might save a life. It is crucial to survival to take preventative measures, so that the number of new cases are lowered and that the number of cases in remission are increased.
The American Cancer Society (Cancer.org)
Breast Cancer Risk Factors, Chain drug Review, October 2010
Breast Cancer Screenings, AWHONN Position Statement, June 20