October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.
What is Breast Cancer?
Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. It starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. It can be a painless hard mass that has irregular edges, also tender, soft or rounded and even painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.
Risk and Prevention
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk. Things like be physically active and limit or avoid alcohol.
Living as a Breast Cancer Survivor
Many women with breast cancer face additional stressful issues. Almost everyone who is going through, or has been through cancer, can benefit from some type of support. Support can come in many forms as family, friends, cancer support groups and more. What’s best for you depends on your situation and personality.
Breast cancer survivor Nalie Agustin gives a inspirational speech on how she beat breast cancer in her 20s and speaks of the importance of self acceptance in a world that makes it too easy to hide.
Live healty, live free, take care of your health.