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October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is #Breast #Cancer Awareness month. It is important to raise awareness about this type of cancer, because early intervention can save lives.  In the U.S., approximately 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer. In 2017, statistics indicate that in the United States alone, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed  along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.  For women, breast cancer death rates are higher than for those of any other cancer, except for lung cancer.

Signs of breast cancer can include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, skin dimpling, nipple fluid, or red scaly skin. Spread of the disease includes bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, yellow skin, and shortness of breath. One can recover from breast cancer if it is caught in time.  Breast cancer does not need to lead to disability or death.

Risk factors for developing breast cancer include being female, although 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017. Other factors that can contribute to developing breast cancer include obesity, drinking alcohol, radiation, late life pregnancy or no pregnancy, family history of breast cancer, and hormone replacement therapy during menopause.  Breast cancer has also been linked to specific genes, which are inherited. These genes are called BRCA1 and BRCA2 and you can obtain genetic testing to determine if you have the gene.  While death rates have been decreasing from breast cancer since 1989, much of the decrease can be attributed to treatment advances and increased awareness, which leads to earlier detection of the disease. Monthly self-exams are important, as is obtaining a mammogram as your doctor recommends. Too many families have lost loved ones to this disease.  Use this month to donate to the cure for cancer, run a 5K and raise money for the cause, or better yet, get a mammogram and encourage your family members and friends to do the same.

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