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Breast Cancer Awareness: What You Need To Know

by Aiza C. Leano (fixer) on September 18, 2019

As October ushers in Breast Cancer Awareness month, you will be greeted with pink products everywhere. You will get to witness the effort of thousands of people and organizations in spreading awareness about this deadly disease. While spreading awareness is important, we also believe that it shouldn’t just be limited to one month. It is about staying well-informed and educated about breast cancer as well as your own body.

In the Cancer Facts and Figures 2019 report published by the American Cancer Society, here are some facts that were revealed:

  1. Women with a family history of breast cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease as someone without.
  2. In 2019, the US will see 268,000 (2,670 in men) new cases of invasive breast cancer getting diagnosed. There will also be 62,930 cases of carcinoma in situ.
  3. An estimated 42,260 (41,760 women and 500 men) deaths will occur due to breast cancer in 2019.
  4. The 5- and 10-year relative survival rates for women suffering from invasive breast cancer are 90% and 83% respectively.
  5. While survival rates have improved over time for all women, in the case of black women, it is still 10% lower than that of white women.
  6. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women above 85 years (13%).

There are numerous risk factors of breast cancer, including lifestyle-related factors and factors that are out of your control, such as being a woman, inherited genes and aging. While you cannot do anything about being a woman or growing old, there are certain changes that you can make, especially in your lifestyle, to reduce the risk of developing this disease.

  1. One of the most common factors that increase the risk of breast cancer is drinking alcohol. While it may sound a little sexist, it is important that women do not consume more than 1 drink a day. It has been found that women who have 1 drink a day are at a slightly higher risk than non-drinkers. Women who drink 2 to 3 times a day are at a 20% higher risk than non-drinkers.
  2. You should keep yourself fit and healthy. Obesity or even being overweight, especially after menopause, has been linked with a higher risk of breast cancer.
  3. According to the American Cancer Society, adults should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous and 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. This helps reduce the risk of breast cancer considerably, more prominently in women past menopause.

In April 2019, breast cancer survivor Fran Boyd completed the Abbott World Marathon, and in doing so, she became one of the only 6,000 people in the world to complete the World Majors. The World Majors are 6 of the most prestigious marathons in the world: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York.

It was after a routine mammogram in 2013 that Boyd was diagnosed with breast cancer. As it was detected early, she could be treated and cured of it.

The best way to avoid the suffering of breast cancer is to be aware and educated about the risks and symptoms. Every woman should be aware of how her breasts look and feel - any anomaly should be immediately reported to a doctor for further examination. Look out for lumps or swelling on your breast. It is also crucial that women between the ages of 40 to 55 get mammograms every year, while those above 55 years should get them after every 2 years. It is only with early detection and treatment can breast cancer be defeated.

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