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October ushers in a month of pink

Shelby DeHaven, ‘Doah Managing Editor
October 2, 2013

'Doah photo by Shelby DeHaven

‘Doah photo by Shelby DeHaven

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 39,620 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. “One in eight women (12 percent) of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.” Since October is breast cancer awareness month, there is no better time to learn how to detect this cancer early and prevent the death of loved ones.

ACS recommends that women 40 years of age and older get yearly mammograms. And even before then, breast exams should be completed by a doctor or nurse as part of regular health exams. These exams should start in a woman’s 20s and 30s, and occur every three years.

“All women can get breast cancer” ACS stresses, but there are some factors that make certain women more likely than others. Age is a large factor. “About 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, while about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.” Genetics can play a part in the development of the cancer as well as family history. Those who have mothers or sisters who have developed breast cancer are two times more likely to develop the disease. The likelihood of women who have two close relatives with cancer “increases the risk three-fold.” Race can also play a role in diagnosis as well. White women are more likely to develop breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die from the disease according to ACS. “Asian, Hispanic and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.”

While breast cancer is primarily found in women, it is possible for men to be diagnosed with the disease as well. However, it is less likely to occur because the male body does not contain a lot of estrogen and progesterone, which promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

“We don’t know how to prevent breast cancer, but we do know how to find it early, when the chance for successful treatment is greatest.” Early detection is the best defense against this disease so stress to the women in your life the importance of getting a mammogram and breast exams regularly.

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