Although October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women need to be well informed about breast cancer every month. However, awareness is not enough. They must also achieve empowerment because Knowledge + Action = Power!® . Did you know that 1 out of every 8 women develops breast cancer. However, it can often be cured without breast removal if it’s found and treated early. In addition, early treatment saves many lives.
Of special concern, African American women have the highest death rates from breast cancer, and many of these deaths are preventable. Too many women who develop signals of possible breast cancer wait instead of seeing a doctor at once because of a fear of possibly losing a breast, and looking different. Looking different is not necessary any more, especially with early diagnosis and treatment. Further,breast cancer spread (or metastasis), many complications, and many deaths can be avoided. That’s important because families and communities can’t afford that, given the important role people with breast cancer play in our lives, and in society.
1. If breast cancer in women is found and treated early, 9 out of 10 of them can be cured. By the way, men can get breast cancer too, but it occurs in less than 1% of men.
2. The best way for cancer and most other serious diseases to be prevented, or diagnosed early, is by knowing the risks of developing them, and reversing the risks one can control. Remember, prevention is always better than a cure, and early detection is the next best thing.
3. Although there are no simple ways yet to prevent breast cancer, women can do a lot to either decrease their risk, or increase early diagnosis and treatment.
Key Risks, or Lifestyle and Health Practice Changes, Women Can Control:
– Having the first pregnancy after age 30
– Recently using oral birth control pills (contraceptives)
– Using hormone treatment after menopause
– Drinking alcohol heavily
– Being overweight or obese
– Not having enough physical activity
By the way, adequate physical activity is generally good for preventing and treating many conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease and stress.
Key Signals of Breast Cancer:
Women should know key signals (signs and symptoms) of possible breast cancer and if you observe any of them, see your doctor at once. If you don’t have a regular doctor, go to another one, or to a community health center or hospital.
– A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue, and a lump doesn’t always mean cancer, or that one has to lose a breast (mastectomy).
– Bloody discharge from the nipple
– Change in the size or shape of a breast
– Changes in the skin over the breast, like redness or dimpling
– Peeling, scaling or flaking of the nipple, or breast skin
– Redness or pitting of the skin (like an orange) over the breast
– An inverted nipple.
When to See a Doctor:
Although most breast changes don’t turn out to be cancer, women should still see their doctor – or a doctor – for any of the key signals above.
Recommended Tests for Early Detection of Breast Cancer:
Screening tests, which are done before women develop signals of breast cancer, result in earlier diagnosis and treatment, and a much greater chance of cure.
The three most important screening tests for breast cancer are:
(1) Breast Self Examination – Examination of your breasts at the same time every month,
(2) Mammogram ( x-ray of the breast) and
(3) Clinical Breast Examination – by a physician or other skilled health professional . It is recommended that women 20 to 39 years of age have a mammogram every 3 years, and starting at age 40, every year. In addition, starting at age 40, women should have a clinical breast examination every year.
Access to Care:
Unfortunately, all minority women don’t receive regular medical care, and for some, it’s because they don’t have health insurance. That’s although man of them are now eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Many minority women have health insurance under Medicaid and Medicare, but still don’t get the preventive care, and treatment, they need. Don’t be caught short. Avoid unnecessary illness and early, or premature, death. Respect Yourself and Protect Yourself. And, if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for those who love you!
And, Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!®