Do you have a friend, family member, or coworker who has been affected by breast cancer? Or are you wondering, “do I have breast cancer, or am I at risk?”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about this disease and to remember that all women need to take preventive steps when it comes to breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in our country.
Detecting breast cancer in its early stages is essential for beating the disease, and it is important that you and the women in your life have an early detection plan in place.
As the American Cancer Society emphasizes, “millions of women are surviving the disease thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment.”
How can you get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month? You might begin by creating an early detection plan for yourself, and encouraging your sisters, daughters, and the other women in your life to do the same.
Early Detection and Breast Cancer Prevention
The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. provides an interactive tool designed to help women create an early detection plan to prevent breast cancer.
Why does anyone need an early detection plan? In short, early detection is the key to surviving a breast cancer diagnosis. As the National Breast Cancer Foundation points out:
Statistics show that 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
If we look at that number in another way, more than 12 percent of all women in this country will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetimes.
Early detection greatly increases the chance of survival.
When breast cancer is detected in an early, localized stage, the National Breast Cancer Foundation reports that the five-year survival rate is 100 percent.
Now that you understand the need for early detection, how can you create an early detection plan?
You can set it up on your smartphone or your computer. To be sure, this app is up-to-date with contemporary technology. It will send you reminders to do the following:
Perform a monthly breast self exam;
Schedule a clinical breast exam; and
Visit your doctor for a yearly mammogram.
Once you have completed the tasks, the early detection app allows you to check it off and to track your progress.
Doing monthly breast self exams and having your yearly mammogram are both critical for early detection, and this handy app can help to ensure that you are taking all the preventive steps you can.
Signs of Breast Cancer
Another important facet of early detection is knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. While yearly mammograms can help with early detection, some forms of breast cancer will not be detected on a mammogram. Given that not all breast cancer will be detected by a yearly mammogram, it is extremely important to perform self breast exams.
And when you do these exams, you should know what to look for. According to the American Cancer Society, “the most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass.” Breast cancer lumps or masses typically have the following characteristics:
- Hard mass; and
- Irregular edges.
However, any new mass should be taken seriously, as breast cancer can also show itself as a tender, rounded, or soft mass. In some cases, breast cancer lumps an even be painful.
You should schedule a visit with your healthcare provider as soon as possible to have any new lump or mass examined. In addition to lumps, breast cancer can also have other symptoms, including:
- Swelling in part of the breast or all of the breast;
- Skin irritation on the breast;
- Dimpling of the breast;
- Breast pain or nipple pain;
- Nipple retraction, or turning inward of the nipple;
- Redness of the breast;
- Scaliness or thickening of the nipple or skin of the breast; and
- Nipple discharge.
Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or around your collarbone can also be signs of breast cancer, even if you do not have other symptoms. To be sure, in some cases of breast cancer, the tumor is not yet large enough to be felt but can already have spread to the lymph nodes.
The early detection of breast cancer is the best way to beat this disease. To better understand your risk, the NCI’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool can help. By answering a series of questions, you can learn more about your individual breast cancer risk and preventive measures you can take.
Mammograms and Detection of Breast Cancer
It is exceedingly important to perform monthly breast self exams and to encourage the women in your life to do the same. Both men and women can help with breast cancer awareness. If you are a man who is not at serious risk of developing breast cancer, it is important to ensure that your mother, sister, wife, and other women who are important to you know about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and understand the significance of early detection.
In addition, yearly mammograms play an important role in the detection of breast cancer for many women. To emphasize the importance of getting a mammogram each year, the third Friday of October is National Mammography Day.
This day is part of the National Breast Cancer Month awareness campaign, and it serves to remind all women that early detection is the key to overcoming a breast cancer diagnosis.
You can even celebrate with other women through social media when you schedule your yearly mammogram this month by using #NationalMammographyDay. This year, National Mammography Day is October 16th.
Contact an Albany Medical Malpractice Attorney
Early detection of breast cancer is essential for defeating this disease. Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to educate all women and their loved ones about the significance of performing self breast exams and having yearly check-ups. Make sure that you and the women in your life know about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and have knowledge about the many tools of early detection.
If you or someone you love was misdiagnosed, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Albany medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP today to learn more about our services.