Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, affecting millions of them around the world. It is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, meaning the risk of it developing in women is around 13%. However, in recent years, incidence rates of breast cancer have increased by .05% (Cancer.org).
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as a lump or swelling in the breast, changes in the size or shape of the breast, or nipple discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
What is the risk?
While there are some things we cannot control, there are some known behaviors that increase your chance of developing breast cancer. The most commonly known activities are drinking and smoking. You should know that women who stay active are less likely to develop breast cancer. Inactive women have a 25% higher chance of developing it (komen.org).
An impactful study in 2002 called the Women’s Health Initiative discovered a link between Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and breast cancer (breastcancer.org).
A small number of cancer cases can actually be linked to a genetic mutation, called BRCA1, which increases your risk of breast cancer by 72%. The mutation known as BRCA2 increases your risk by 69%. Generally, these cancers tend to develop in younger women (breastcancer.org). Ask your doctor about how to find out if you have this mutation.
Some Good News
Breast cancer death rates have been steadily declining since 1989 as women have become more aware and early detection is more prevalent. Deaths from breast cancer have decreased by 43% since the late 80s through 2020 (cancer.org).
You should know that breast cancer can be detected early through regular screenings, which can increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery. Women are encouraged to perform self-exams and to schedule yearly mammograms starting at age 40, or earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer. Early detection is your number one defense against this disease.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast cancer awareness is crucial in promoting early detection and improving outcomes for those who are diagnosed with it. If you haven’t already done so this year, take advantage of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, and schedule your yearly mammogram. By educating ourselves and others about the importance of regular screenings and self-exams, we can help to reduce the impact of breast cancer on our lives and the lives of those we love.