October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – What You Should Know

Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and you'll likely see many things in stores have either turned pink, or now have pink labels to raise money and awareness for this dangerous disease. It's unfortunate that some stores and companies will try to capitalize on this disease, and say that most of the proceeds go to organizations like the Susan G. Komen foundation, when all of the proceeds go back into the company. To make sure your money is going to breast cancer research, you can always donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation via their website at NationalBreastCancer.org.

Breast cancer is one of the more prevalent types of cancer among women, the only other type of cancer that is more prevalent is lung cancer. According to BreastCancer.org, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her life – that's a little over 12%. Invasive breast cancer is the most dangerous, because it can quickly spread from the breast to the healthy tissue in the surrounding areas through the blood and lymphatic system. The stages of breast cancer of I through IV are invasive.

Another type of breast cancer is non-invasive, which means it's still localized to one area in the breast. There are two kinds of non-invasive or “in situ” breast cancer, and those are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). DCIS is a precancerous lesion, and if not removed, it can become invasive. LCIS won't become invasive, but it still increased the risk of the development of breast cancer if left alone.

What You Can Do for Early Detection

According to the Breast Cancer Resource Directory of North Carolina, if you are over the age of 40, you should get a mammogram every year, as well as a clinical breast exam by your doctor. If you are in your 20s and 30s, you should get a clinical breast exam every 3 years. This is also when it's recommended that you start doing self breast exams once a month. According to NationalBreastCancer.org, 40% of detections are from self breast exams.

Mammograms are the most important form of early detection, however, because they will catch the breast cancer when it is much smaller, than when you can feel a lump from a self exam. If the cancer is caught while it's in the smallest stages, it will be much easier to treat, and with a much better prognosis. According to EarlyDetectionPlan.org, when breast cancer is caught in the earliest stages, the 5-year survival rate is 98%.

While mammograms will catch it early and even if you have one every 3 years, it's still important to do a self breast exam, so you can get better aquainted with how they look and feel when they are healthy. If you notice any changes in the texture or look of your breasts, you should contact your doctor right away. He or she might want to do an examination to make sure everything is okay.

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