October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 This month is dedicated towards: 

  • Raising funds for breast cancer research (on treatment, prevention, and cures) 
  • Informing and supporting those affected by breast cancer
  • Increasing the population’s awareness of the breast cancer 

To begin, what is Breast Cancer? 

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breasts grow out of control. In the U.S., 1 in 8 women have a lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This disease can affect both men and women. Although it is less common in men, approximately 1 in 100 men will have breast cancer. 

There are different types of breast cancers. The type of breast cancer is determined by which cells in the breast turn cancerous. 

The two most common types of breast cancer are: 

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma- The cancer cells grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. 
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. 

Both of these types of breast cancer can be spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body which indicates the cancer’s stage (1-4). In addition, there are several other less common breast cancers such as  paget’s disease, medullary, mucinous, and inflammatory breast cancer

Early detection is key. How can one detect it? 

  • Regular breast checks for symptoms 
  • Mammograms 
  • Gene testing (if have family history) 

Symptoms to look for while doing a regular breast check: 

  • Any changes in breast size 
  • Nipple tenderness 
  • Pain in the breast area 
  • New lump in the breast or under the arm 
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk) either clear or bloody  

Mammograms: 

Mammograms are x-ray screenings of the breast to check for any cancerous growth. 

It is advised that women between the age of 45-54 should get annual mammograms.  

Some local mammogram centers in Memphis: 

  • Methodist Lebonheur healthcare

https://www.methodisthealth.org/healthcare-services/womens-health/breast-health/?gclid=CjwKCAjwoc_8BRAcEiwAzJevtX8vU3NxCk_tD20vtmjKyS3GVSXg4VnDUIK-lsQP-jCkeeJXDvcLIBoCro4QAvD_BwE

  • St. Francis Hospital Memphis 

https://www.saintfrancishosp.com/services/diagnostic-imaging/mammogram

  • Women’s care center of Memphis 

http://www.wccofmemphis.com/our-services/screening-mammography/

  • Mccdonald + Murrmann center for wellness and health
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women 

https://www.baptistonline.org/services/womens-health/breast-health

Gene testing

It is true that family history is an unavoidable risk factor for developing breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it might be beneficial to have a genetic testing for the mutated BRACA1 or BRACA2 genes. The BRACA1 and BRACA2 gene mutations are the most known gene link to increasing your chances of breast cancer. However, just because you have the mutation, doesn’t necessarily mean one will develop breast cancer.  If you have tested positive for the mutated BRACA1 or BRACA2 gene, here are the steps you can take after knowing: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/what-to-do-if-youve-tested-positive 

What are some risk factors? 

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

There are both controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for breast cancer.Some controllable things you can do to lessen your chances of getting breast cancer include staying physically healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, eating fruits and vegetables, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. 

Possible risk factors that can not be controlled include: 

  • Family history- inheriting a genetic mutation
  • Getting older- risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most are diagnosed after 50
  • Exposure to hormones- those who are exposed to hormones longer are more likely to develop breast cancer
  • Having dense breasts- this can sometimes make it difficult to see a tumor in a mammogram
  • Family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • Previous treatment using radiation therapy near the chest area

Survivors: 

There are approximately 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. Life may look different as a survivor, but know there is a community of people there to support you. Read some stories and lessons about cancer survivor’s experience with breast cancer: https://www.sharecancersupport.org/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-stories/ 

If you have any questions about breast cancer, or think that you may have it or be at risk for it, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/breastcancerawareness/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/what-is-breast-cancer.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/men/index.htm

https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BreastCancerScreeningforWomenatAverageRisk.html

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