October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and October 13 is Breast Cancer Awareness Day. During this time, it’s essential for women and their loved ones to learn about this disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Finding it early can save lives. In this article, we’ll talk about breast cancer, what makes it more likely to happen, and ways to stay healthy. We’ll hear from Dr. Sudha Kannavar, MD, who is an expert on this topic and a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the American University of Antigua.
Understanding Breast Cancer
The key to dealing with breast cancer is finding it early. There are three important ways to check your breast health:
- Breast Self-Exams: You can check your breasts by yourself. Look and feel for any changes regularly.
- Clinical Breast Exams: Have a healthcare professional check your breasts.
- Mammograms: These are special X-ray pictures of your breasts. Women over 40 should get them every year.
It’s also important to look out for signs like changes in breast size, nipple changes, nipple rash, unusual discharge, changes in the skin, lumps, swelling, or persistent pain. If you notice any of these signs, see a doctor. Finding problems early can lead to better results.
Some things can make breast cancer more likely:
- Age: The older you are, the higher the risk. Women over 50 are at more risk.
- Family History: If your close family members like your mom or sister had breast cancer, it can raise your risk.
- Genetics: Some genes can make breast cancer more likely. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are examples.
- Hormones: Early periods, late menopause, or not having children can raise the risk.
- Lifestyle: Being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, and not being active can make it more likely.
Here are some tips to help lower your risk:
- Self-Exams: Get to know your breasts. Check them every month and tell your doctor about any changes.
- Clinical Exams: See a healthcare professional regularly, especially if you’re over 40.
- Mammograms: Women over 40 should get them every year. They can find cancer early.
- Healthy Diet: Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Eat less red meat and processed foods.
By being aware of these signs and risk factors and following these tips, you can take steps to protect your breast health. If you have any concerns, always consult with a healthcare provider.