October is typically known for spooky costumes and trick or treating, but did you know that the month of October is also dedicated to awareness of a devastating disease that is estimated to impact 252,710 newly diagnosed women and 2,470 men, and ultimately killed 40,610 women and 460 men in 2017 (Susan G. Komen, 2017)? That’s right, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
So, what is breast cancer? Well, in short, breast cancer occurs when cells divide and grow without their normal control, resulting in a tumor growing slowly in the breast.
So how can someone know if they’re at risk? We’ve got you covered. First, the warning signs of breast cancer are not the same. The most common signs are a change in the look or feel of the breast or nipple and nipple discharge. Another common indication is a lump in the breast. Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel like a change should be checked. If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, its encouraged they see a health care provider (Susan G. Komen, 2017).
Although breast cancer affects the lives of many people, today, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. This is due to the work of early detection and treatment. Screening tests, such as a breast exam, mammogram or breast MRI, are used to find breast cancer before it causes any warning signs or symptoms; these tests can find breast cancer early when the chances of survival are highest.
The fight against cancer is done in unity. You can join support groups, seek out advice on how to manage medical bills, as well as learn about nutrition, exercise, bone health, and how to stay on track for treatment. All this and more can be found at breastcancer.org. The website guides users through steps, starting from home examination, all the way to treatment and recovery. The website is very user-friendly and gives answers to most questions related to breast cancer. There are diagrams of self-examination, warning signs, and clinics nearby.
Since September 2010, the Affordable Care Act has required all new health insurance plans to cover yearly mammograms with no out-of-pocket costs (copayments or co-insurance) for women ages 40 and older (breastcancer.org, 2017).
If you need access to free or low-cost mammograms the American Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) offers financial assistance for breast cancer screening and follow-up tests to uninsured women. Also, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program provides access to breast cancer screening to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women. Planned Parenthood also offers clinical breast exams and referrals for mammography (and any follow-up testing, such as breast ultrasound) (breascancer.org, 2017).
Each October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many imaging centers offer mammograms at reduced rates. To find a certified mammography center in your area, visit the FDA website (www.fda.gov) (breastcancer.org, 2017). Let’s continue the fight against breast cancer through donations and early detection. Donations help with cancer research, as well as eligibility for free or reduce testing. Visit the ww5.komen.org/ website to donate today. Click the link below (ctrl + click):
Facts and Statistics, Susan G. Komen, 2017. https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/FactsandStatistics.html
Warning Signs, Susan G. Komen, 2017. https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/WarningSigns.html