Wear It Pink
I don’t regularly find the opportunity to address charitable causes here and felt this would be an appropriate one to talk about seeing as it was something that occurred within my extended family – breast cancer. In a sentiment that calls to mind the physical and emotional discomfort experienced by women suffering from breast cancer, and considering that October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where I was invited by the lovely team at HunkeMoller at VR Bengaluru, to host a Breast Cancer Awareness workshop to support the cause and help more women understand breast health as well as provide knowledge on breast cancer and breast-cancer screening, it’s only fitting to bring this cause to the attention of my readers and tell you all that it’s time to Rethink Breast Cancer.
The Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries across the world every October, helps to increase awareness and support the early detection, treatment and adequate care for this health condition. It is true that wearing a pink ribbon hardly puts us through the experience that families go through when a member has been diagnosed with breast cancer. But the knowledge that the cause is being supported by people all over the world and that research and development in the field is getting more attention because of the awareness being spread by supporters surely makes a difference. And this is why I urge you to join the cause and wear it pink!
With over 450,000 lives lost every year to this disease, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women around the world. Doctors emphasize on the importance of early detection of the disease but the inadequacy of health programs and common knowledge of the disease makes it difficult to combat breast cancer effectively; a situation that can be reverted if adequate public health initiatives are put in place.
If you or someone you love is anxious about developing breast cancer, have been recently diagnosed, are going through treatment, or are attempting to remain well after treatment, we at Urban Diaries can help you find the answers you need and urge you to support the cause and spread awareness among your friends and family members too.
Here is what you need to know.
What is breast cancer?
- Commonly diagnosed in women over the age of 50, breast cancer can also affect younger women and in rare cases, men may also develop this type of cancer.
- Early detection of breast cancer can make it easy for people to combat the problem more effectively and recover with the help of treatments and medication. Breast Cancer Awareness Month stresses on the importance of detecting the early symptoms of Breast Cancer by ensuring women know how to check for lumps.
- Your age, family history of breast cancer, previous diagnosis, height and weight are considered to be important factors. Those who drink alcohol very frequently are also at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
- The two primary types of breast cancer are, invasive and non-invasive. Non-invasive cancer is found in the ducts of the breast and it does not usually spread outside the breast. Invasive cancer is the more common type which develops in the cells which line the breast ducts. Lobular breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease of the breast are other types of breast cancer currently known to us.
- The spreading of breast cancer to other parts of the body is termed as metastatic which is commonly referred to as secondary breast cancer.
What are the main symptoms of breast cancer?
Almost 90% of the lumps that develop in your breasts do not lead to cancer. But knowing that even 10% of them can be cancerous makes it imperative for you to consult a doctor when you notice any lumps.
Other symptoms of this type of cancer may include:
- Discharge from the nipples
- An alteration in the size or shape of your breast
- A lump or swelling in the armpit
- Dimples on your breast
- Nipple rash
- The nipple sinks into your breast
How is breast cancer diagnosed and treated?
- Diagnosing breast cancer usually involves consulting your General Practitioner who will take you through a basic examination and suggest a mammogram or an ultra sound. If necessary, a biopsy may be required for clarification of the disease.
- Mammograms are more suitable for aged patients who have breast tissues which are relatively less dense. This procedure includes the X-Ray of the breast.
- If you are over the age of 50, it is advised that you go through a breast cancer test every 3 years because the risk of this type of cancer increases with age.
- Treatments for breast cancer can vary with the age and health of the patient and the stage of cancer that was diagnosed. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy while hormone and biological treatments are the less popular procedures used to treat breast cancer.
- Secondary breast cancers are considered to be incurable which is why the treatments are focused on providing relief from the symptoms and reducing the extent of suffering for the patient.
Can breast cancer be prevented?
Research is yet to come to a definite conclusion regarding the causes of breast cancer which makes it difficult to attain insight into things that can be done to prevent it.
Some of the main risk factors are considered to be:
- While studies are not conclusive about it, limited research leans towards the fact that smoking can increase the menace of breast cancer. This is especially the case among long-term smokers who start smoking even before their first pregnancy.
- Your weight also plays a role. It has been noticed that the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer is 1.5 times higher in women who are overweight than those who are leaner, and 1.2 times higher in women who are suffering from obesity.
- Additionally studies suggest that women who lead an active life face a 10% – 25% lower risk than women who lead a comparatively inactive life. It has also been noticed that the risk is higher among postmenopausal than premenopausal women.
- Evidence also strongly leans towards the fact that alcohol consumption can increase the chances of breast cancer in women by 7% to 10% for every one drink of alcohol consumed every day. This means that women who drink 2-3 alcoholic drinks a day are at a 20% higher risk of developing breast cancer than their non-drinking friends.
End note: The heart of this post is the importance of increasing your awareness and knowledge about breast cancer and to anyone who has not been there, it can be hard to understand and comprehend fully, the extent of the trauma that a person and their family may undergo because of the disease. With treatments being extremely difficult and excruciatingly painful, the best way to combat this is early detection. To all those suffering from it, and to those who are supporting their friends or family members fight breast cancer, we hope this post helps you know more about it and strengthens your ability to fight it.