What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, it’s a common disease -- most people have known someone fighting against it. This month, you’re likely to see a sea of pink while you’re out and about as people show their support and raise awareness about the disease.

Maybe you know some details about breast cancer. That it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the U.S. That alcohol consumption increases the risk. That birth control pills don’t put you at risk. And that men get breast cancer, too.

Here at New Beginnings OB-GYN, we believe there is always something new to learn about breast cancer. In recognition of pink ribbon month, let’s have a look at some lesser-known facts about this disease.

1. There are various types of breast cancer

Breast cancer is not just a single illness. There are various kinds of cancer that occur in different parts of the breast -- such as the lobules, the ducts, or even the tissue in between. Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for breast cancer.

This condition varies from slow-growing cancers — which can be treated more easily and are less life-threatening when properly treated — to extremely aggressive, malignant, and fast-growing ones.

2. Many painful lumps are cancerous

There is a lot of discussion about lumps in regard to breast cancer, yet there is still some confusion on the topic.

While a painful lump may not necessarily mean cancer is present, 80% turn out to be cancerous. Along with painful lumps, other signs that may point to breast cancer include nipple discharge, persistent itching, and bumps on your skin that look like bug bites.

3. Even if you have breast implants, doctors recommend self-exams and screening

Women with breast implants may need to get extra mammogram images to help the doctor have a better look at the breast tissues. Those with implants also have an advantage when doing self-exam, because this surgery elevates small breasts off chest walls, making examination easier.

Additionally, breast implant aftercare involves regular massaging to help prevent hardening. For this reason, women with implants are typically aware of how their breasts normally feel and can easily notice small changes.

4. There’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk

Maintaining a healthy way of life helps lower your risk of having breast cancer. Adhere to lifestyle behaviors such as getting regular exercise, keeping an average weight, limiting alcohol, avoiding smoking, and eating a well-balanced diet that includes lots of orange and green veggies.

5. Treatment options are getting better

When diagnosed with this disease, many people first think of surgery and chemotherapy. However, not all cases require chemotherapy. Thanks to research, new genomic tests help identify those patients who need chemotherapy.

Getting a mastectomy — the full removal of one or both or breasts — is less intrusive than it used to be. Furthermore, studies have shown that the rate of survival is similar if you instead choose a lumpectomy — removing only the growth and surrounding tissues, saving the breast — and follow up with radiation at the site, so long as the cancer is in only one place and not too large.

Report any changes you notice

If you have recently noticed changes on your breast, regardless of how minor the change is, it’s important that you speak up. For support, care and recommendations on keeping a healthy lifestyle, book an appointment with New Beginnings OB-GYN today. We are happy to help you!

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