October is breast cancer awareness month, so let’s talk breast cancer!
1 out of 9 women develop breast cancer… if you think about it, that’s a lot!! Most breast cancers occur after the age of 50, however, it is possible for younger women (and men!) to develop it as well. 1% of breast cancers occur in men. The younger you are when you develop breast cancer, the faster it grows and the more chances it has to spread (aka metastasize) in your body, and vice versa. Thus, it is important for everyone, younger and older women, as well as men, to know how breast cancer presents and how to detect it.
Now let’s clear something out of the way: If you are below 50 years of age and you feel a lump on your breast, the chances that it is cancer are less than 10%. So don’t panic! Lumps are “normal” in some women and come and go with hormonal changes. However you should have it checked out by a doctor regardless.
It is very important to do a quick breast exam on yourself every few months. Here is how to do it properly:
If you prefer a picture, here it is:
You should also be getting regular mammograms if you are over 40-50 years of age (depending on the country).
Some symptoms are commonly associated with breast cancer. Although by themselves they may not mean that you have cancer, it is always a good idea to get your doctor’s opinions if one of the following occur:
- Breast pain – this is such a common symptom that it is usually not even investigated further. All women have some degree of breast pain throughout their life due to hormones, stress, menses, aging,… However, new breast pain, especially one-sided, is more suspicious.
- Nipple changes – color, feeling, secretions, inversion, bleeding
- Dimpling, swelling, pitting (enlarged pores), rash or recent breast asymmetry
- Inflammation in a part of the breast: redness, swelling, pain
Below is a link for a medical calculator to assess your risk of developing breast cancer. If you are curious about your risk, click here: Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium Risk Calculator.
Stay healthy ❤ (and do your breast self-exams regularly!)