October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that means a lot more than just wearing pink ribbons. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become more of a social movement, it can be easy to forget why the awareness campaign was created in the first place.
In 1985, a number of major health organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physician’s and Cancer Care Inc, joined efforts to initiate the first month-long national awareness campaign, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The campaign was aimed at educating people about the breast cancer, promoting prevention and early detection as well as raising money for a cure.
Each year, support for this movement continues to grow. Most people know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. That’s no surprise when you learn that 1 in 8 women will suffer from breast cancer in their lifetime! Now that we know how Breast Cancer Awareness Month originated and why it was created, it’s time to talk education and prevention!
The major misconception about breast cancer is that you are only at risk if you have a family history of the disease. However, that is not the case. Anybody can develop breast cancer and you may be at higher risk without knowing it. These are a few easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol intake to 1 drink per day
- Stop smoking
- Speak with your gynecologist about the risk your oral contraceptive or hormone therapy may pose
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, education on early detection is a major focus. That’s because early detection greatly increases your chances of recovering from breast cancer and living a healthy life after the disease. Detection comes in many forms, but these are the most helpful.
- Self-examination – Self-breast exams should be performed once a month, every month. The best time of the month to perform a self-breast exam is 7-10 days after your period. If you notice any redness, pain, lumps, dimples, or other changes in your breast tissue during a self-breast exam you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Mammogram – Women aged 45-55 should go in for an annual mammogram to check the breast tissue for any abnormalities. Women over the age of 55 should receive a mammogram every 1-2 years based on their medical history, family history, and other factors. Mammograms may cause slight discomfort, but they’re a vital tool in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.