Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know About the Most Common Cancer
Please note that this post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any concerns please consult an appropriately qualified medical professional.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, people from all over the world will be working to raise awareness and increase knowledge about this extremely common disease, which affects over 280,000 women in the US every year.
Here at Incrediwear, we have launched limited-edition pink versions of our popular knee, arm, and elbow sleeves. 50% of the profits from every sale of these products will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending breast cancer by advancing the most promising research across the world.
Knowledge is one of the most important tools in the battle against cancer. Here are four things you might not know about breast cancer.
Men Can Get Breast Cancer, Too
Breast cancer overwhelmingly affects women. Around 1 in every 8 US women will develop the disease over the course of their lifetime. However, men also have a small amount of breast tissue, which means it is possible for a man to develop breast cancer. According to BCRF, around 2700 men are diagnosed in the US each year and 530 will die of breast cancer.
Because many men are not aware that they are also at risk, sufferers may ignore the signs until the disease is dangerously advanced. This means that the survival rates for male sufferers are slightly lower than for women.
If you’re a man and a close male relative, such as your father or brother, has had the disease then you may be at higher risk.
Genetic Testing Can Help to Determine Your Risk Level
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that have been shown to impact people’s risk of developing breast cancer over their lifetimes. We all have these genes, which play a major role in preventing cancer.
However, a small number of people carry mutated BRCA genes. If you are one of these people, then your chances of developing breast cancer in your life may be increased. You can also pass this mutation on to any children you may have.
BRCA genetic testing is a blood test that is used to identify mutations in your BRCA genes. It’s not routinely performed on people with an average risk profile but may be recommended in certain circumstances. For example, if you have a close relative (such as your mother or sister) who has had breast cancer at a young age or if you have a personal history of certain diagnoses, it may be recommended.
You and your doctor are best placed to decide whether BRCA gene testing is right for you. However, it’s important to remember that anyone can get breast cancer, even if they are not carrying a mutated BRCA gene.
A Lump Isn’t the Only Sign of Breast Cancer
A lump in the breast is the most widely known sign that could indicate breast cancer. And, while this is one thing to look out for, some of the lesser known symptoms include:
- Changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- Unusual discharge or fluid from one or both nipples
- Lumps or swelling in your armpits
- Changes to the skin on your breasts such as a rash, redness, dimpling, itching, crusting, or scaly skin
- Either or both of your nipples turning inwards
Breast pain is not commonly a symptom of cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The most important thing is to get to know what is normal for your breasts. Check them regularly and if you are concerned about any changes, see your doctor immediately.
Breast Cancer is Very Survivable
The prognosis for cancer is highly individual and based on many factors including your age, overall state of health, how advanced the disease is (sometimes called the “stage” of cancer), and how the cancer responds to treatment. However, as well as being the most common cancers, breast cancer is among the most survivable.
According to WebMD, the overall survival rate for women with breast cancer is 90% 5 years after diagnosis and 84% after 10 years. And according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the 5 year survival rate for men is 84%. This means that, if the disease is caught and treated in time, sufferers stand a very good chance of surviving and recovering.
Please remember that statistics are based on averages and that if you are diagnosed, your medical team is best placed to advise you about your treatment options and prognosis.