Do you know that breast cancer is the most deadly form of the disease affecting women? It is the most common type of cancer affecting women. Unfortunately, it is the second leading type of cancer resulting in death. Before going into the details of the disease and how some silly mistakes can put your life at risk, you need to know about the pink ribbon symbolizing the disease. You may have wondered by a pink ribbon is often linked to breast cancer. Read ahead to know more.
Breast cancer is a serious disease, which is now recognized by many governments around the world. Each country develops and executes programs to create awareness of the disease. American President Bill Clinton proclaimed the third Friday of October as the National Mammography day in 1993. So, on the third Friday or throughout the month, campaigns encourage women to take a mammography test to ensure wellness. Why October? Because it is now the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month or NBCAM (National Breast Cancer Awareness Month). Throughout October, organizations conduct several programs and health campaigns to spread awareness of the disease as well as raise funds. These funds can facilitate the research to find the cause of the disease, detect preventive measures, diagnose the problem conclusively, and find treatment to alleviate or manage the problem.
So, the campaign starting on October 1st runs until the end of the month to educate people about the benefits of early screening, testing, and medical intervention to prevent complications. The yearly campaign has indeed found success as the fatality due to the deadly disease has reduced due to early intervention.
Whenever you read an article about breast cancer, you can a pink ribbon along with it. You may have wondered the backstory and its meaning. The concept was introduced by Charlotte Hale, a breast cancer survivor to spread awareness among officials on the lack of budget allowance to prevent cancer. She attached a peach-coloured ribbon with cards containing messages to spread her message. Self magazine’s editor-in-chief, Alexandra Penney adopted the idea to feature in her magazine for the 1992 October edition of the magazine. Due to the difference of opinion, Haley rejected the idea. So, it resulted in Penney using a pink ribbon instead of the peach-coloured one. Pink is universally accepted as the colour of feminism. It also represents beauty, goodness, and cooperation. Today, everyone around the world promotes breast cancer awareness month with a pink ribbon.
How can you detect cancerous presence in your breast? While the signs may vary from one person to another, the early signs of the disease include:
Swelling in one or both breasts
Visible difference like skin changes, redness or other problems in your breast/s
Change in size or shape of the breast/s
Appearance change in one or both nipples
Pain in any part of the breast
Nipple discharge (other than milk)
Nodes or lumps on or inside your breast
Specific signs related to invasive breast cancer include:
Change in breast size or shape
Itchy or irritated breast
Peeling or flaking around the nipple
Thickening of breast or presence of lumps
Pitting of breast skin
A woman develops breast cancer when the cells in the breast region grow abnormally. These abnormal cells divide at a rapid rate compared to healthy cells. So, the cells start accumulating and form a mass/lump. The cells tend to metastasize (spread) through the breast to surrounding lymph nodes or other body parts. The factors causing the abnormal accumulation of breast cells in women are:
Lifestyle and environment
Improper breast care
History of breast conditions
Inherited genes to develop breast cancer
Prior history of cancer
Undergoing hormonal therapy
Excess alcohol consumption
While most people feel invincible as they think the disease will never affect them. Instead of ignoring the problem, you need to take preventive steps to avoid the issue from affecting your life. Women with risk factors like family history need to maintain caution. Others can make some changes in their lifestyle to lower the risk of cancer.
Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer. So, you need to limit alcoholic drinks to less than one per day.
Smoking and cancer have a direct relation. It increases the risk, especially in women experiencing premenopausal signs.
Excess body weight can put you at risk of the disease. It is specifically true for women who suffer from obesity later in life, particularly after reaching menopause.
With regular physical activity, you can maintain a healthy weight. So, try to include 150 minutes of aerobic activity or vigorous activity for 75 minutes per week along with strength training at least twice a week.
Breastfeeding has an important role in preventing breast cancer. So, a new mother needs to breastfeed their babies instead of opting for formulas. When you breastfeed for a longer time, you get greater protection from the disease.
Women who undergo combination hormone therapy for long durations (3 to 5 years) face the risk of breast cancer. So, people who take hormone medication to control menopausal symptoms need to look for alternatives. Talk to your doctor about safer methods or use low doses to outweigh the risk associated with the therapies.
If you work in an environment that puts you at risk of high doses of radiation, then follow the suggested protective standards. Use PPE (personal protective equipment) or safety guidelines.
Many women make the silly mistake of ignoring the changes in their breasts. Never make the mistake. So, you need to report changes like the development of lumps, skin changes or other issues to your doctor. After assessing the problem, your doctor can suggest when to begin screening tests like mammograms depending on your individual medical history.
With early detection and treatment, you have better chances to overcome the disease and live a happy life. Therefore, undergo regular screenings and test to detect breast cancer in its infant stages for a better outcome.