October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A time and a chance to give more support to breast cancer survivors, their loved ones, and those who are just beginning the fight of their lives. Think Pink with us and spread the word on how to save lives by detecting breast cancer early with the Utah Cancer Control Program, Utah Department of Health. Help Utah women live healthier and happier lives and get in to win a home workout grand prize equipment package with a treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical from Sole Fitness and FM100.3.
THINK PINK TIPS
Breast cancer is serious in Utah. It’s the number one cause of cancer death for women in our state. But when it is detected early, in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%.
Are you at risk of breast cancer if you don’t have family history of breast cancer? Yes, only 12 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer have any family history. Your greatest risk factors are being a woman and getting older. Obesity, smoking, delaying childbearing, and drinking alcohol are also risk factors.
Getting regular mammograms lowers your risk of dying of breast cancer. New research shows women who get screening mammograms regularly, can find aggressive cancer early, get treatment, and cut their risk of dying of breast cancer by half.
Starting at age 18, you should have an annual breast exam at the doctor’s office. You should also be examining your own breasts each month after your menstrual period.
If you feel a lump in your breast, don’t panic. Most women have lumpy areas in their breasts, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign (not cancer). But, it’s good to have a physician examine it for peace of mind.
You should call your doctor if you’ve noticed a lump or other breast change that is new and worries you. Especially if the change lasts more than one full menstrual cycle and you see changes in a lump, swelling, nipple inversion, an itchy or red rash, or nipple discharge.
Ask your doctor about starting annual mammograms at age 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may need to start your annual mammograms at a younger age.
Your mammogram should be covered by your insurance. The Affordable Care Act and many state laws have provisions that assure that most women with private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare have coverage for breast cancer screening services.
The Utah Cancer Control Program provides free breast cancer screenings to Utah women aged 40-64 who are low income, uninsured, or underinsured through the BeWise program. Call 1-800-717-1811 to find a provider near you.
Utah law mandates that your mammogram results tell you if you have dense breast tissue. Women with dense breasts are at higher risk and may require follow-up screenings using ultrasound or MRI scan.
All women who should be getting a standard 2D mammogram are also eligible for a 3D mammogram. 3D mammograms are more accurate, detect 41 percent more invasive breast cancers, fewer false positives, and may be especially effective for women with dense breast tissue.
You deserve answers. If you talk to your doctor about a lump or breast change, it’s important that your doctor gives you an explanation, and a plan for monitoring or treating it. If you’re not comfortable, get a second opinion.
Sometimes breast cancer occurs in women who are pregnant or have just given birth. It’s rare, but breast cancer occurs once in every 3,000 pregnancies and most often in women aged 32-38 years old.
There are 5 stages of breast cancer: stage 0, which is non-invasive ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS, and stages 1 through 4, which are used for invasive breast cancer. The stage provides a common way of describing the cancer, so doctors can work together to plan the best treatments. The lower the stage, the less the cancer has grown or spread.
Metastatic breast cancer, also called Stage 4 or advanced breast cancer, is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body, like bones, lungs, or brain. Although it is not curable, it is treatable and as treatments improve, so does survival.
If your doctor orders a biopsy or surgery, samples of your breast tissue will be sent to a lab where pathologists will study it to determine if it is cancer. The pathology report will also show the tumor’s grade and if there are biomarkers showing Estrogen, Progesterone, or HER-2 receptors. This information will guide your personalized treatment.
Men can get breast cancer too. It’s rare, but 1 out of every 100 breast cancer cases is found in a man. Men can also inherit a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation for increased risk of cancer and pass it on his children.
Get moving. Exercise lowers a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 20-25 %. Even walking 10 hours a week reduces the risk. Exercise also lowers a cancer survivor’s risk of recurrence (the cancer returning).
Hormone Replacement Therapy doesn’t cause breast cancer, but the estrogen in HRT fuels breast cancer cells. If you’re destined to get breast cancer, HRT could speed up its arrival by as much as a decade.
Maintain a healthy weight as you age. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
Researchers in Utah and around the world are searching for better treatments to stop breast cancer formation and growth, developing targeted therapies, improving quality and length of life, and giving hope to people diagnosed with breast cancer.