October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer risks, the value of screening and early detection, and treatment options available to women and men who are diagnosed with one of the many forms of breast cancer.
Besides skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S., but it can be successfully treated. Screening tests can find cancer early, when chances for survival are highest. Regular screening tests (along with follow-up tests if diagnosed) reduce your chance of dying from breast cancer.
Over the years, a loop of pink ribbon has come to symbolize breast cancer awareness, but there is more to awareness than just wearing pink. Here are just a few of the ways you can help yourself and others in need:
Know your risk- Find out your health history and share with your doctor.
Get screened- Have routine clinical exams and mammograms every year starting at age 40. Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at normal risk. (Those under 40 should also have clinical exams every 3 years)
Know your normal- See your doctor if you notice any of the following breast changes.
• Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
• Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
• Change in the size or shape of the breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
• Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
• New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Make healthy lifestyle choices- Maintain a healthy weight, exercise, don’t smoke, limit alcohol use and breastfeed if you can.
Donate- Each donation to a non-profit Breast Cancer Foundation helps sustain the mission to educate the community and fight to end breast cancer.
Volunteer- Get involved. Every little thing you do makes a difference.
Share on social- Share your story of how you or a loved one has been affected by breast cancer. By raising awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, we can all work together to help women (and men) stay healthy.