National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Events are held all month long in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and PWOG is doing its part by sharing life-saving information about breast cancer symptoms and prevention. About 12 percent of American women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime – that’s 1 in 8 women! -- and in 2016, nearly 247,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S.

Fortunately, despite these figures, breast cancer diagnoses and breast cancer fatalities are actually dropping, as they have done over the course of the past two decades. Some potential reasons for this are the prominence of lifesaving screenings, awareness campaigns, advancements in treatment, and earlier detection.

Preventing breast cancer

Breast cancer prevention isn’t black and white. There are steps women can take to lower their risk of developing breast cancer, but there are also some factors that are beyond their control. For example, certain genes such as the BRCA gene are linked to breast and ovarian cancers. These genes are passed down from one generation to another and breast cancer risk increases if this gene is present. There are genetic tests that can determine if the BRCA gene runs in the family.

That being said, there are other risk factors that women can control. Lifestyle decisions such as diet, exercise and tobacco use can factor into your overall health, as they can elevate your risk for developing certain cancers, including breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting regular physical exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. Cutting out tobacco products and lowering alcohol consumption will also reduce cancer risk.

Breast self-exams

One of the best ways women can take charge of breast health is to perform a breast self-exam. Self-exams are not intended to replace an exam by a physician or mammogram, but they are very helpful in getting women to become familiar with the appearance and texture of the skin on their breasts so they are able to more easily identify changes. Examples of such changes include a lump, puckering around the entire breast area including nipples, changes in color to the nipples, fluid coming from the nipples, soreness, redness, swelling, or changes to the overall size and shape of the breasts. Learn how to perform a breast self-exam.

Contact your PWOG provider to discuss any questions or concerns you have about breast cancer or your potential breast cancer risk.

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