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Pinktober: Breast Cancer Awareness

Pinktober: Breast Cancer Awareness

In 1985, October was designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer had reached the highest incidence rates ever recorded (likely due to increased mammography screening). Since 2004, the incidence of breast cancer has remained stable. In 2018 it is estimated there will be 266,120 new cases of breast cancer with 40,920 deaths in women. 2,550 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men.

· Second most common cancer in women after skin cancer

· 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime

· 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history

Risk Factors

· Age is the most important risk factor of breast cancer. The older a woman is, the greater the risk

· Female gender

· Personal and/or family history of breast cancer

· Genetic-inherited changes in genes (including BRCA1, BRCA2)

· First menstrual period before age 12 year or menopause after age 55

· Hormone replacement therapy after menopause for more than 5 years

· Never having been pregnant

· First pregnancy occurs late in life

· Alcohol consumption


· New lump in the breast or armpit

· Breast thickening or swelling

· Irritation or dimpling of breast skin

· Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or on the breast

· Pulling-in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area

· Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood

· Any change in the size or the shape of the breast

· Breast pain

A Screening mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast that has no signs of breast cancer. The screening guidelines are for women of average risk. Guidelines for women at high risk may differ.

American Cancer Society

· Women ages 40 to 44: if they wish to do so

· Women age 45 to 54: yearly

· Women 55 and older: every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

· Before age 50: an individual decision

· 50-74: every 2 years

· 75 Years and Older: insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening mammography

A Diagnostic mammogram involves additional views and magnification for those having breast symptoms.

Monthly Breast Self-Exams (BSE) help you become familiar with the way your breasts normally look and feel. This will enable you to note changes in your breast in the time between your yearly mammogram and/or clinical breast exam (performed by a medical professional). Women should get mammograms and clinical breast exams at the appropriate age. BSE is not a substitute for these screening tests.

Look for Symptoms: Stand in front of a mirror

· Hold your arms at your sides

· Hold your arms over your head

· Press your hands on your hips and tighten your chest muscles

· Bend forward with your hands on your hips

Feel for Symptoms: Lying down

· Lie down on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder

· Use of the pads of the 3 middle fingers of your left hand to check your right breast

· Press using light, medium, and firm pressure in a circle without lifting your fingers off the skin

· Follow an up and down pattern

· Feel for changes in your breast above and below your collarbone and in your arm pit

· Repeat on your left breast using your right hand

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