One in every eight women has breast cancer and it is estimated that every year over 200,000 women are diagnosed. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women worldwide. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and during this time, we strive to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment of this disease.
We would also like to take time this month to address women’s health cancer screenings and offer tips on how to keep safe this season.
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells within the breast grow out of control and become cancerous. There are different kinds of breast cancer depending on which cells within the breast turn cancerous. Breast cancer can begin in one part of the breast and spread to other parts or outside of the breast through blood and lymph vessels.
It is important to note that though uncommon, breast cancer can develop in men as well.
What are the risk factors?
Your risk for breast cancer is a result of a combination of factors including age, family history of breast cancer, or genetic mutations in certain genes that may increase your risk of developing cancer.
While many of these factors are genetic, there are factors under your control that can lower your risk of breast cancer. These factors include:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Lowering your alcohol consumption
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Those who take hormonal birth control or undergo hormone therapy may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
The symptoms of breast cancer can vary depending on the type. It is also important to note that not all patients diagnosed with breast cancer will have the same symptoms. Common symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- A lump felt in the breast or underarm
- Any change in the size or shape of the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
- Irritation or dimpling on the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Redness or flaky skin
- Thickening or swelling of the breast
Conducting self-examinations daily of your breasts will help you to become familiar with how your breasts look and feel. This will allow you to notice any changes that may be of concern. If you note any of the symptoms above, please schedule an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation.
Pap Smears and Other Women’s Health Screenings
We would also like to take a moment this month to inform you about other women’s health screenings that you should undergo regularly.
A pap smear, also known as a pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of abnormal, precancerous, or cancerous cells on your cervix, the opening of the uterus. In general, doctors recommend women have cervical cancer screenings every three years for women between the ages of 21-65. If combined with the HPV test, women can consider a pap smear every five years instead.
During this procedure, your doctor will use a plastic or metal instrument known as a speculum to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina, gain access to your cervix, and collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. It can be mildly uncomfortable but does not usually cause any long-term pain. It can take as long as three weeks to receive your test results. If the test shows something abnormal, your doctor will contact you to discuss your results and determine the best course of treatment.
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
The screening for colon cancer typically begins at the age of 45, unless otherwise recommended by your doctor. This is accomplished by analyzing a stool sample or by examining the colon and rectum (colonoscopy).
Endometrial Cancer Screenings
During menopause, women should report any unexpected vaginal changes such as bleeding or spotting. There are many causes of postmenopausal bleeding that can be benign such as uterine polyps or fibroids. However, uterine cancer, or endometrial cancer, can also cause abnormal changes during menopause. If you notice any changes, please report them to your doctor so that a biopsy can be conducted to determine whether there is a concern for cancer.
Halloween Safety during COVID-19
Choosing costumes, decorating pumpkins, and trick-or-treating bring joy to many this October. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic holidays may look slightly different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the fun.
Low-risk activities include carving pumpkins with members of your household or outside with friends at a safe distance and decorating your home and living space. Look for outdoor community events such as visiting a pumpkin patch or apple orchard where safe distancing and face masks are enforced.
In some communities, trick-or-treating may be discouraged or canceled. A family scavenger hunt for treats in your home or yard can be a fun alternative. Participating in one-way individually wrapped goodie bags, placed for families to grab and go can also be a safe alternative from traditional door hopping. Please remember that a costume mask does not replace or substitute a cloth face mask.
For more information on breast cancer awareness or safety measures in October, please contact our office today. We’d also like to mention our monthly specials of 10% on microdermabrasion with the purchase of two treatments and 15% on the third treatment. We are also offering 10% off laser photo facials and $10 off botox with the purchase of 50 units.