October marks the worldwide annual campaign of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the second most common type of cancer in women. The campaign helps increase the attention that supports the awareness and advancement of treatment for the disease.
Doctors and Researchers have discovered simple ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
1. Recognize the risk factors
While there are different risk factors when it comes to developing breast cancer, one that is common to both men and women is age. Other important risk factors include family history and inherit diseases. These factors are controllable, and it will always start with healthy habits like limiting alcohol intake, staying active, not smoking, and controlling your weight.
2. Know the warning signs
Knowing how breasts normally look and feel is a crucial part of breast health. The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women, but the most common symptom is a lump or mass is felt. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but for some, it can be tender, soft or rounded and can be painful. When breast cancer is detected early, it gives a better chance for successful treatment. Other warning signs include:
- nipple discharge
- skin irritation
- redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
It is best to consult a doctor if you might experience any of the symptoms mentioned.
3. Get mammograms or self-breast exam
A mammogram is a non-invasive X-ray used to check breasts for breast cancer and other abnormalities. A self-breast exam is possible too, helping women become familiar with their breasts for early detection. Women can use their eyes and hands to inspect if there are changes in how their breasts look and feel. This can be done by looking at the mirror while raising your arms. Women can also test and feel their breasts while lying down and using the right hand, feel your left breast and vice versa. To conduct a self-exam, use a firm, smooth and circular motion with your finger pads and cover the surface of your breasts. Here is a more detailed self-breast exam.
3. Treatment advancements
Researchers keep on improving to find better ways to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer. Patients can remain optimistic as researchers are working on developing new treatments all the time
Combining a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups is always a good preventative measure. If you’ve never had a breast exam or conducted a self-exam before, now is the time to start.
What else can you do?
Various organizations are hosting events throughout the month to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. You can also check websites like the WHO (World Health Organization) to learn more.