According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women and about 63,960 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS – non-invasive and at the earliest) form of breast cancer) will have been diagnosed by the end of 2018. With these estimates, a woman currently has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her life. These statistics continue to make breast cancer the most common cancer in women, followed by skin cancer.
As October launches the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is a good time to take stock of our knowledge of the disease and its risks and symptoms. But at Raleigh General Hospital, we also believe that consciousness is more than just a month. It's about keeping up to date and helping you take the right steps to combat breast cancer, including early screening through annual mammograms. But first, let's do a quick refresher on the basics of breast cancer.
How does it start?
Simply put, breast cancer is caused by a genetic abnormality. Only a very small percentage (5-1
Other risks include a family history of breast cancer, a lack of physical activity and obesity or obesity after menopause. Most women have some risk factors, including younger women. Women under 45 account for about 11 percent of all new breast cancers in the US
How do I know if I have them?
Breast cancer symptoms can vary from person to person.
Warning signs include:  l New lump in the chest or armpit
l Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
Irritation or pitting of the breast skin
Reddening or scaly skin on the chest
Pain in the nipple area
l Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
Any change in the size or shape of the breast
Pain in any area of the breast
It is important to remember that these symptoms may be caused by diseases other than cancer, and some people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have no symptoms whatsoever. Therefore, early detection is so important to fight the disease as effectively as possible.
and Reducing Your Risk
Early detection is the key to combating breast cancer and can lead to a simpler treatment plan. And one of the best methods of early detection is an annual mammogram. A mammogram is a simple, routine screening that helps detect breast cancer earlier than waiting for symptoms to appear. Regular mammograms are recommended for women over 40 years. If you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, you may need to start with regular mammograms earlier. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor about your risks and the time most appropriate for you to start with mammograms.
In addition to the annual mammograms for early detection, there are proactive measures that can reduce your risk of breast cancer, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy diets, limited alcohol consumption, and prevention of chemicals that can cause cancer.
While breast cancer can be a scary business, one plans an annual mammogram to support early detection and lead a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle, which helps reduce your risk, gives you the peace of mind that comes from your breast health.
If you're planning a mammogram or want to talk to a doctor about your breast health, Raleigh General Hospital can help. Visit the Find a Doctor tab on RaleighGeneral.com and they can connect you with proper care. For more information on breast cancer, visit www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer and www.breastcancer.org
Debbie Vaughn is senior nurse
at Raleigh General Hospital