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Jake Keator
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October 26, 2021

Earlier this month, we published a blog post pertaining to Liver Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed in the month of October. Similarly, October is also recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society estimates that by the end of 2021, 281,550 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. They add that estimates showed that roughly 43,600 women would die from the disease (ACA). Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, only behind lung cancer. It is reported that women have a 13-percent (1 in 8) chance of developing the disease over their lifetime.

The ACA provides 5-year survival rates for those diagnosed between 2010 and 2016. Data for 2017-2022 is still ongoing. Data is organized based upon how far the cancer has spread away from the breast into three categories: local (cancer is located only in the breast), regional (cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes), and distant (cancer has spread to the lungs, liver, kidney, or other areas).  When caught early, survival rates for diagnosed women are high. 99-percent of women with local breast cancer survived their diagnosis, along with 86-percent of those with cases of regional cancer. As noted above, survival rates decline significantly decrease in distant cases, only 29-percent of effected patients survive (ACA).

With the knowledge of this data, the question becomes, “how do I reduce my risk of breast cancer?” The American Cancer Society recommends that all women achieve and maintain a healthy weight, along with routine exercise. A stable diet is also known to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Women with a family history of breast cancer, or a known genetic mutation increasing their risk, should speak with their doctor regarding genetic testing, genetic counseling, and medicines that may reduce their cancer risk.

It is also recommended that those at higher risk perform more routine screenings for breast cancer. Screenings should be conducted every six to 12 months, and mammograms should begin at an earlier age. The ACA adds that on top of traditional screenings, those at increased risk should add additional tests, such as a breast MRI (ACA).

Not all breast conditions are cancerous, in fact, benign condition are quite common. These non-cancerous conditions are not life threatening, but according to the ACA, can lead to increased risk for breast cancer later in life. If you believe there may be something wrong, consult your doctor for next steps (ACA).

Cancer research is ongoing, and breast cancer awareness month is recognized worldwide. As part of the month, Pink Ribbon Day is celebrated every October 28th. Over the past several years, advances in treatment have greatly increased the lifespan of breast cancer patients. Through fundraising events across the world held throughout the year, not just in October, medical advances and treatment options continue to grow.

To learn more about breast cancer and view sources for this article please visit the American Cancer Association website. If believe you or someone you know may be at increased risk or suffering from breast cancer speak with your doctor.