How Much Do You Know About Your Breasts? -Dr. Stephanie Shaw DC
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So listen up ladies, because this affects all of us.
According to the breast cancer foundation, breast cancer will affect 1 in 9 women during their lifetime. Most of us know at least one person who has been diagnosed with it. In 2013, breast cancer continued to be the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadian women over the age of 20. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian women after lung cancer. If some of you think you are too young to be concerned with breast cancer, think again. Even though the risk of breast cancer increases with age, there are still 18% of all breast cancer cases that occur in women under the age of 50. This age range also accounts for 10% of all breast cancer related deaths. Breast cancer in younger women also tends to be more aggressive, often moving quickly to advanced stages. This is why it is important for women of all ages to get screened for breast cancer and perform monthly self-breast exams.
What causes breast cancer?
It is important to understand that breast cancer is a complex disease with no single cause. There are combinations of causes, which are not yet all known. The main causes can be separated into two main groups:
- Inherited (genetic)
- Environmental (lifestyle, physical activity, hormone replacement therapy, chemicals, etc.)
What can you do to reduce your risk?
Here are a few tips that everyone should start practicing on a daily basis:
- Decreasing stress factors
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting regular physical activity
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals
- Performing monthly self-breast exams
- Scheduling clinical exams and mammograms based on your age and health history
What to look for during your self-breast exam?
- A breast lump (however, these can be benign lumps such as cysts or lymph nodes; if you do find a lump in your breast or your arm pit, check with your medical doctor)
- Dimpling of the breast
- Changes in breast size (That are not related to your menstrual cycle)
- Changes in the nipple
- Liquid leaking from the nipple
- Changes in the skin (similar to an orange peel)
- Redness or discolouration that does not go away
- Any other unusual changes in your breast
Now you can share this knowledge and help in the prevention of breast cancer in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.