Breast cancer, of all cancers, actually has a good prognosis. Cancer treatments have come far over the last 15 years, and most are very treatable. Breast cancer is one of those—but you need to be aware, and you need to catch it early!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While you would have to live under a rock to not be familiar with the pink ribbon, here’s what you need to know about breast cancer:
-The best way to catch breast cancer is to know your breasts, and to watch for changes—especially anything hard or painful.
Not all (American) doctors are up on this, even though it’s been the “latest” research for over 5 years, and is the recommendation adopted by other countries. You might still get asked about doing a monthly breast exam or be handed a brochure about checking for lumps. Just smile and nod, read the brochure (you can never be over-informed!) and go on with your day.
Why don’t they recommend checking for lumps? Because there’s a very, very high rate of false-positives, which leads to stress, fear, and unnecessary, expensive follow up procedures. (And guess what can weaken your immune system and be a trigger for cancer? Stress.)
-Breast cancer is most likely to occur under the armpit, rather than straight up in breast tissue.
So when you’re getting to know your breasts, be sure to include surrounding tissue, especially along your side and under/in your armpit.
-You don’t need to jump on to the preventative mastectomy trend.
Many types of cancers have rare, deadly, fast-acting forms. It’s a small percentage of people who get them, and it’s hard to catch them early. When it comes to breast cancer, it seems to have a genetic link. So certain people getting preventive mastectomies are doing so not out of straight paranoia or fear, but because of information they have about themselves—that they may have inherited a relative’s fast-acting cancer.
Your doctor will be able to talk to you about your personal risk factor—there are even some blood tests that can help you have a clearer picture about your health.
-Exercise (and good nutrition) can actually go a long way toward prevention.
So can regularly taking time to de-stress, avoiding toxins like BPA (leached from plastic) and getting lots of antioxidants.
Make sure you talk about breast cancer with all your female—and male!—friends.