Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign dedicated to educating people about breast cancer, the importance of early detection, and access to high-quality, timely care. Women of all ages and ethnicities are at risk of breast cancer emerging, so people around the world must be made aware of the risks, signs, and symptoms. Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in women, accounting for 15% of all new cases in the US. According to The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), almost 298,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. More than 43,000 women will die of the disease in 2023, making it second to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American women.

What is Breast Cancer?

This disease is when malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. When this happens, cells build up to create a tissue mass called a tumor, growth, or lump. These cells then invade the surrounding tissues and spread to other body areas. They break away from the original site and enter lymph or blood vessels, branching to other tissues throughout the body. This process is called metastasis. 

How to Prevent Breast Cancer

As you get older, it’s crucial to have an annual mammogram done by your doctor; the consensus is around age 40. Studies show that finding and treating cancer early significantly increases your chances of survival. Early detection also includes performing monthly breast exams on yourself to check for signs and symptoms of cancer. Becoming familiar with how your breasts look and feel will help you identify any lumps or changes much quicker. While this is a valuable tool to help you find anything out of the ordinary, self-exams should NOT replace clinical breast exams and regular mammograms. 

While there are some factors you cannot control, you can adopt some healthy habits to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. These include:

  • Stay physically active. According to the National Cancer Institute, studies have shown that physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women. 
  • Do not smoke. Eliminating smoking and second-hand smoke from your lifestyle decreases the risk of developing multiple types of cancer, including breast cancer. 
  • Limit alcohol consumption. The more alcohol you consume, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a risk for both men and women in developing cancer. Sustaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of both obesity and cancer. 
  • Know your risk. Talk to your doctor about your family history and see how that impacts your risk of breast cancer. You and your doctor can create a personalized plan to monitor for signs of the disease.
  • Know your risk. Talk to your doctor about your family history and see how that impacts your risk of breast cancer. You and your doctor can create a personalized plan to monitor for signs of the disease.

Types of Breast Cancer Treatment

There are various treatment options for those diagnosed with breast cancer. Some are systemic, targeting your whole body with cancer-fighting agents, while others are local, targeting just the area surrounding the tumor. However, most plans include a combination of radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapies.

Once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, a team of cancer specialists will devise a unique treatment plan based on your needs. This team may include a medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a care manager/caseworker/nurse navigator or patient navigator, a registered dietitian, and an oncology nurse.

A few fantastic medical resources are available for breast cancer patients in the Addison area. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Plano have many cancer specialists ready to help you from beginning to end. If surgery is determined to be an appropriate course of action, Dallas Surgical Group is a wonderful place to go for treatment and recovery. 

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