October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the world and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Breast cancer can be developed at any point in someone’s life, though the risk increases with age. On average, breast cancer takes the life of an American women every 13 minutes, and another case of breast cancer is diagnosed every two minutes. Per the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts and Figures 2020, there will be an estimated 1.8 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,520 cancer deaths in the U.S. this year alone. Early breast cancer may have few to no signs, which makes consistent testing even more important, especially in women above the age of 40.
Knowing signs and symptoms of breast cancer are very important for diagnosis and early detection. Ask yourself if you have experienced any of the following.
- Painless lump or mass in the breast or axilla (the armpit)
- Persistent changes to the breast (i.e: thickening, swelling, dimpling, redness and nipple abnormalities, such as spontaneous discharge, scaliness or retraction or inversion)
Knowing the risk factors can also help you understand your risk of developing breast cancer. Ask your doctor how any of these factors may be affecting your personal health.
- Excess weight and Obesity
- Alcohol Consumption
- Oral Contraceptives
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- History of Breast Cancer
- Direct Family History
- Dense Breasts
- Previous Abnormal Breast Biopsy
- Reproductive History
What are the Stages and Treatments?
Stages of breast cancer range from Stage 0 to Stage 4. Every stage provides different symptoms and options for treatment. The most common tool used to describe the progression of breast cancer is the TNM Staging System. Doctors will run a series of tests to answer these three vital questions:
- Tumor (T): How large is the primary tumor in the breast? What are its biomarkers?
- Node (N): Has the tumor spread to the lymph nodes? If so, where, what size, and how many?
- Metastasis (M): Has the cancer spread to other parts of the body?
After diagnosis on this scale, the proper treatment options can be discussed. These include but are not limited to surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. Often times, patients will receive a combination of multiple treatment types in an attempt to remove their cancer and prevent it from coming back.
What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign during the month of October to increase awareness of the disease in countries across the world. The purpose is to initiate and drive research towards diagnosis, prevention, cure and treatment; with constant information and support to women affected by breast cancer. Together, we can find a cure, but it starts with education, making testing a common practice, and continued research.
For more information on Cancer Registry, and how registrars work to help aid cancer research, read our latest cancer registry blog.