The idea of breast cancer strikes fears in us all. What if a loved one or I was to get it? After the initial thought, most people push the fear out of their minds and don’t dive deeper into what breast cancer actually is and what you can do to prevent a diagnosis. There are so many questions about breast cancer, and many women don’t know the answers or are too scared to find out. Here are the quick facts about breast cancer and what you can do to avoid it, without all the fear.
What is breast cancer?
The first step in learning more about breast cancer is knowing what cancer is and how it is caused. Cancer cells are caused by a genetic abnormality. To break down what that means, as your body produces new cells, it “copies and pastes” the genetic material (like a pattern or code.) As you start to get older, it is easier for a mistake to occur in copying the genetic material causing a mutation. Once the mistake is made, the cell is at risk for cancers and other diseases.
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that forms from the cells in the breast. Typically, we see breast cancer form in the milk ducts, passages, or glands, but sometimes we see them form in the fattier tissues of the breast. If left unchecked, breast cancer can quickly start moving to other parts of the body and become a lot harder to fight. It is important to learn what can minimize your chances your getting breast cancer, and how you can detect it early on.
How can I avoid breast cancer?
Many people believe that breast cancer moves through generations, but in truth, only about 5-10% of cancers are passed down from a mother or father. It is more likely to get breast cancer from the “wear and tear” of getting older. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to 100% remove your chances of getting cancer. There are things you can do to minimize your chances of getting cancer.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle (exercising, balanced diet, and avoiding drugs and alcohol) can help reduce breast cancer risk. While these will not completely remove cancer risk, it will get your off to the right steps. Next, you will want to know other things you can do to minimize your chances of getting breast cancer, and what risk factors could increase your chances. You can also check out risk factors to breast cancer here. The truth is breast cancer is nobody’s fault, and there is nothing you can do to 100% avoid it. There are steps you can take to stop the spread of breast cancer early, including doing self-exams and getting regular screening tests.
Why is it important to do self-exams?
While you cannot always prevent breast cancer, it is extremely important to pay attention to your breasts and watch for any changes that could indicate breast cancer to stop it from spreading. Over time, cancer cells can start taking over nearby healthy cells and start working its way towards the lymph nodes in the underarm. Once cells have gained access to the lymph nodes, it then has passage to start spreading to other parts of the body.
Regular screenings are important, but these tests cannot always find all breast cancers, which puts more importance on doing regular self-exams. In a self-exam, you want to feel for any masses in the tissues of or around your breasts. These masses can feel soft or hard, round or irregular, be painful or painless. Read more about doing a breast self-exam here.
Why is breast cancer awareness important?
One in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her lifetime. Knowing more about how to avoid breast cancer and how to catch it early can make a huge difference in the outcome. Becoming more aware yourself and spreading awareness can save lives! Still have questions about breast cancer? Come see us! Click here for our contact information.