You've heard people talk about breast cancer and you've seen the pink ribbons on bumper stickers and products. Perhaps a fundraiser asking you to contribute to a fund supporting breast cancer research has even contacted you. You're wondering how prevalent breast cancer is and exactly how serious the disease is. It's important to be educated in regard to basic breast cancer information so you can protect yourself and loved ones against this form of cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the formation of a malignant tumor in the breast tissue or milk ducts. It is the second most common cancer contracted by women (skin cancer is the most common). Approximately 240,000 women contract breast cancer every year. Men can also contract breast cancer, but men are at a much lower risk than women. About 2,000 men contract breast cancer each year.
How Serious is Breast Cancer?
The seriousness of a case of breast cancer depends on two factors: what kind of breast cancer it is and how early it is detected and treated. Non-invasive breast cancer is limited to the milk ducts, and if detected early, is usually very easy to treat and overcome. Invasive breast cancer is cancer that is pervasive throughout the milk ducts and breast tissue and is more difficult to treat. Non-invasive breast cancer can turn into invasive cancer if it is untreated. Early detection and treatment always improves the chances that breast cancer can be successfully treated and overcome.
Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer?
All women are at risk of breast cancer, but you are more at risk if you have a history of cancer in your family, if you are overweight, if you are over the age of 40 and if you eat a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Breast Cancer?
You can protect yourself from breast cancer in many ways. You should eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and maintain a healthy weight. To determine your healthy weight, calculate your BMI - Body Mass Index-and check to see if your BMI is in the healthy weight range.
You can protect yourself from cancer by doing monthly self-exams on your breasts, searching for lumps or changes in your breast tissue. You can also protect yourself through annual professional breast exams (by your primary physician or obstetrician) and by getting annual mammograms once you turn 40.
More Detailed Information About Breast Cancer
To gain more information on breast cancer, research on the Internet or ask your primary physician about your level of risk. If you feel unsure of a lump or change in your breast tissue, see your doctor immediately, as early detection is key to successful treatment of this disease.
Cancer is such a scary word. Many of us fear it, especially if it runs in our family. And with fear comes stupidity. We don't have the tests we need to have, we don't eat the foods that are good for us and we don't talk to our doctors about our risk factors.
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