October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What steps can you take to protect yourself as you age?
Breast cancer, a disease in which the cells in the breast multiply uncontrollably, affects 268,600 women in the United States each year. Despite advances in detection and treatment, female breast cancer remains the 4th-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re examining some key information about the disease and its outcomes.
Most people don’t realize that there are multiple kinds of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the most common types of breast cancer are:
- Ductal Carcinoma in Situ – This cancer is generally non-invasive or is in the pre-invasive stage when detected. Learn more today.
- Lobular Carcinoma in Situ – While not technically a cancer, LCIS causes non-cancerous cells to grow in the milk-production glands of the breast. However, the cells do not grow past the glandular walls. Learn more today.
- Invasive Breast Cancer – This cancer has spread into the other tissues of the breast. The most common types of invasive breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Learn more today.
Know The Signs and Symptoms
Breast cancer typically causes few symptoms in its early stages. However, you should schedule a visit to your doctor if you notice any of the following warning signs:
- New breast lumps or armpit lumps
- Changes in skin thickness or texture around the breast
- Indentations or dimpling on the breast
Know When to Get Screened
Breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women between the ages of 50 and 69. However, women who are diagnosed later in life have a higher rate of mortality.
Generally, yearly mammograms are recommended for women between the ages of 45 and 54. Women younger than 44 can also choose to get yearly mammograms if they want to.
Women over the age of 55 should get mammograms every 2 years, but can receive yearly screenings if they choose to. Regular mammograms should continue as long as a woman is healthy and has a reasonable life expectancy.
It’s important to note that the single most important determining factor for survival rates is early detection. Women who are diagnosed at the earliest stage of breast cancer have a 90% 5-year survival rate.
Know the Risk Factors
There are some risk factors for breast cancer that all women should be aware of:
- Being obese
- Being older
- Family history of breast cancer
- Certain genetic mutations – BRCA 1 and BRCA2 are genetic mutations that have been linked to an increased risk for developing both breast and ovarian cancer
Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast cancer treatment plans can range from surgery to hormonal therapy.
Here are the most common therapies available to treat breast cancer:
- Surgery – A surgeon removes cancerous breast tissue.
- Chemotherapy – A special array of drugs is used to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy – An intense beam of energy is used to target and kill cancer cells.
- Targeted Therapy (Biologic Therapy) – Specific cancer cells are targeted during treatment without harming normal cells.
Have more questions about senior health and wellness? Check Brookfield Senior Living’s blog for more great topics and information!