Breast Cancer Awareness:Keys to Early Intervention

Breast Cancer Awareness
Young Women Do Get Breast Cancer.

Until we can prevent, until we can cure cancers of the breast, early intervention offers the best possible opportunity for finding a breast cancer while it is still small and confined to the breast. Early stage breast cancers oft times require less aggressive treatments and have the most favorable outcomes.

No woman wants to think she can get breast cancer. In addition to the fears that accompany a diagnosis of any cancer, breast cancer carries the added anxiety of changes in body image.

Many women fear a loss of femininity, of sexuality, of being less attractive to their spouses or significant others. They cannot imagine how they would cope with a breast cancer diagnosis.

Fear of the disease keeps many women from learning their risks.They don’t get comprehensive breast exams or mammograms.

Feeding denial are the myths about breast cancer that some women embrace to reassure themselves that they will not get the disease. The most often heard, "Breast cancer isn't in my family, I can't get the disease." The truth is that more than 75% of women diagnosed have no family history of the disease.

If you have breast tissue, you can get breast cancer. Other risk factors are:

  • A family history of the disease
  • Carrying genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Aging
  • Dense breasts
  • Lifestyle behaviors -being significantly overweight, lack of exercise, poor diet, and excessive alcohol consumption

    During my years of patient navigation for the American Cancer Society, most of the newly diagnosed women I met with in NYC hospitals, especially those between the ages of 25 and 40, wanted to know how they got the disease. Some shared that they thought breast cancer was a disease of older women. Women living a healthy lifestyle, prior to being diagnosed, were angry it didn’t protect them from getting breast cancer.

    According to the American Cancer Society, one out of eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.

    American Cancer Society estimates for 2015 estimates are:

    • 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women.
    • 60,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (a non-invasive form of breast cancer).
    • 40,290 women will die from breast cancer

    The American Cancer Society Recommends the Following Screenings for Breast Cancer:

    • Yearly mammograms{x-rays of the breast) at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
    • Breast exam every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
    • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any change promptly to their doctor.
    • Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.

    Part of breast cancer awareness is the knowledge that breast cancer is not one disease. The types of cancers that make up what we refer to as breast cancer don’t all present with the same symptoms. Not all cancers of the breast present with a lump. There can be a rash on the skin of the breast or a change in the appearance of the nipple.

    Breast cancer awareness and early intervention saves lives.

    It saved mine twice!