Monday, October 1, 2012

Think Pink – Breast Cancer Awareness Month


breast ultrasound
Breast Cancer walk (http://www-cancer.us/breast-cancer-walk/)

Dubbed Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is the time of year for us to stay on top of our health, especially in terms of screening and preventive care.  Cancer statistics from Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, show that 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. Catching cancer early can improve the prognosis, so it helps to be vigilant about breast cancer screening and prevention.

While on vacation a couple of years ago, I noticed an unusual breast lump while showering.  Of course, the lump was on my mind until we got home, so I made an appointment right away to have a breast ultrasound as soon as possible.

Like many women, I am wary of various cancers and like to check with my doctor if I notice anything unusual. But, how do we know if something is serious? Does breast cancer have any symptoms?

The American Cancer Society tells us that certain unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Pain in breast
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Lump in the underarm area

These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. If you notice any changes in your breasts, you should contact your doctor and schedule an examination.  The first sign of breast cancer can be a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. These lumps may be hard, have uneven edges and may be painless. However, cancers can also be soft and rounded, without uneven edges. This is why it is vital to have any unusual changes checked by a doctor.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening to detect breast cancer early.
  • Doing monthly self breast exams (BSE) can reveal changes before a doctor's appointment. Women know how their breasts normally look and feel, and can notice changes during a BSE.
  • At the age of 40, an annual mammogram is recommended.  Research shows early detection of breast cancer is the key to successful treatment and a better prognosis.
Check with your local hospital or health professional if you are in need of a free mammogram.  You can also type in your location and the words free mammograms (Ex. Doylestown free mammograms) to find this service in your area.

Local Pink Ribbon Events

There are many ways to support breast cancer research and prevention this month. Many companies host “pink days” encouraging employees to wear pink clothing or accessories to work and make a donation to breast cancer research. Donations often benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the National Cancer Institute and other foundations.

Here are some other suggestions for ways you can THINK PINK and do your part to support breast cancer awareness and the fight for a cure.

  • Run in a 5K race for breast cancer in your area. The Lehigh Valley sponsors the Women’s 5K Classic, which takes place October 12 and 13 of this year.
  • Enter your location and breast cancer events (Ex. Doylestown breast cancer events) in your browser’s search box. This will give you a list of events in your area.
  • Take care of your own health by getting your mammograms and doing breast self exams. Encourage your daughters, friends, moms and nieces to do the same.
  • If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, consider keeping a breast cancer journal to express your emotions and engage in positive self talk to keep your thoughts positive.
  • Host a neighborhood car wash, or rake leaves to raise donations for a local breast cancer charity.

Shop Pink
breast cancer mammograms
Many products support breast cancer research.

Many products are dedicated for sale so that proceeds go to breast cancer research and support groups. Everything from groceries and gourmet foods to clothing and jewelry can be purchased to support a cure.  Look for the specialty pink packaging. When shopping online, look for the unmistakable pink ribbon.

Stay tuned for more information about breast cancer awareness and support groups!

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

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