Hi, and welcome to Care Just Right’s first blog. We are looking forward to sharing simple and helpful information on a variety of topics that affect us all at different times in our lives and in different ways.
We could not have started with a more impactful topic than breast cancer. People dear to me have been impacted by cancer and I cherish this opportunity to contribute to the awareness campaign during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Let's start with some simple information and statistics about this disease:
Cancer is a genetic disease, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, mainly how they grow and divide.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American Women, other than skin cancer
1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer sometime in their life, about 12%.
Death rates from female breast cancer dropped 39% from 1989 to 2015, these decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments.
Age is an established risk factor for breast cancer, the older a woman is, the more likely she is to get breast cancer.
Incidence rates begin to increase after the age of 40 and are highest in women over the age of 70.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
Early detection is key to successfully address breast cancer. Approximately 98% of breast cancer incidences that are detected early are treated with 100% success rate. Therefore, the more aware you are of its earliest signs and symptoms the more prepared you are to start taking the necessary measures to treat it.
Here is the list of the basic signs and symptoms:
Swelling of all or part of a breast, even if no lump is felt.
Retraction of nipple (turning inward).
Breast or nipple pain.
Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
Discharge from the nipple area (other than breast milk)
Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
About detecting breast cancer
Breast cancer can't be prevented, but there are steps that should be taken to help detect it earlier. Adult women, of all ages, are should perform breast self-exams at least once a month. According to Johns Hopkins Medical center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.
Worth mentioning that the recommended breast self-exam is an often-ignored part of a prevention plan, particularly among the elderly who are at a higher risk after menopause. Ensure that your elderly loved ones undergo regular mammography and screening check-ups.
Make sure to establish a rigor of communication, education, and monitoring with your loved ones, specially the elderly, about signs and symptoms to “catch it” at its earliest manifestation
Treatment Options Available
Breast Cancer is treated according to its clinical stage. The numbers of cancerous cells that have accumulated direct the treatment. You will also notice that different organizations have different treatment protocols. Thus, first, you should take a second opinion to verify the treatment selection. The four basic treatment options are:
Surgery –The surgery can be as minimal as lumpectomy (removal of the lump only) to radical mastectomy (removal of entire breast axillary lymph nodes and underlying chest wall). It is the choice of treatment for advanced stage cancer.
Radiation Therapy - As a routine follow-up procedure, radiation therapy is continued in the post-operative period.
Chemotherapy – This systemic treatment is designed to treat cancer cells of entire body. It rapidly kills cancerous as well as healthy cells. That is why it is accompanied by several side-effects. Recent developments in chemotherapy are reducing its side-effects to a great extent making it safer and more comfortable for the Elder patients.
Hormone Therapy – In this, certain hormones are used to target the cancer cells in a systemic manner. Thus, the hormones estrogen or progesterone is inhibited by drugs in order to reduce growth of breast cancer cells. In some cases, ovarian hormone production is inhibited. This therapy is used to reduce the risk in high-risk patients, to reduce recurrence and also in advanced disease.
If you have concerns about your or a loved one’s breast health, make it a point to go for a screening. Remember that early detection is a key factor to successfully treat breast cancer.