On the cusp of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Julia Louis-Dreyfus reminded us that one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. That’s 12 percent of women if you are doing math.
Here are some more numbers for you. In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
About 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
Not enough? About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
So let’s talk about early detection, screening and awareness.
Through October it will be a veritable explosion of pink. From athletes, to celebrities to the clerk at the grocery store. Everyone will be asking you to buy something pink, or wear something pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Just please, let all that pink be a reminder to not only donate to worthwhile charities supporting the fight against breast cancer, but also as a reminder to take care of yourself.
The first step in prevention is self-breast exams. Talk to you doctor, or look up online how to perform one, but these exams are of the utmost importance. You know your body better than anyone, so you will be the first to notice if something isn’t right or is different. You are more likely to spot these differences right away if you get in the habit of doing self-exams monthly.
Set a reminder on your phone, whatever you need to do to stay on schedule and check yourself every month. You can check out breastcancer.org for tips on self-exams as well as signs to look for during exams. Remember to bring up any irregularities to your doctor as soon as possible. There is a good chance that any lump you find is benign, but it is always better to be safe. This is also true if you have any sort of discharge or pain (beyond normal tenderness associated with hormonal changes).
No one gets particularly excited about hitting the big 4-0, but it’s an important benchmark as far as breast health is concerned. Forty is the age when women should start getting regular mammograms (with the caveat, of course, that your personal history and family history may affect when you need to start getting them).
The bottom line is that early detection is vitally important to beating breast cancer. So make sure you are doing all that you need to in order to protect yourself. Be sure to check out the stories from UPMC and Evangelical hospitals on pages 8, 10 and 16 for more information on early detection, screenings and Evangelical’s Girls’ Night Out.
Also, if you have concerns about being able to afford a mammogram, please see the UPMC ad on page 29 for information on their $55 mammograms.