This month WIFE (Why Isn't Forever Easy) supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are walks all around the nation and if you can go out and walk for the cause. If you know someone who is currently going through Breast Cancer, call and give them some support. If you know a survivor, there is still a way you can show support.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year. An estimated 40,170 women are expected to die from the disease in 2009 alone. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer). Although African-American women have a slightly lower incidence of breast cancer after age 40 than Caucasian women, they have a slightly higher incidence rate of breast cancer before age 40. However, African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age. Breast cancer is much less common in males; by comparison, the disease is about 100 times more common among women. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1,910 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among men in the United States in 2009.
One of the earliest signs of breast cancer can be an abnormality that shows up on a mammogram before it can be felt. The most common signs of breast cancer are a lump in the breast; abnormal thickening of the breast; or a change in the shape or color of the breast. Finding a lump or change in your breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Additional changes that may also be signs of breast cancer include:
- Any new, hard lump or thickening in any part of the breast
- Change in breast size or shape
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Swelling, redness or warmth that does not go away
- Pain in one spot that does not vary with your monthly cycle
- Pulling in of the nipple
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly and appears only in one breast
- An itchy, sore or scaling area on one nipple
Mammography screening remains the best available method to detect breast cancer early. However, no medical test is always 100 percent accurate, and mammography is no exception. Research is under way to improve the technology to lead to better accuracy and to create new technologies.
In 1992, the U.S. Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act to ensure that mammography facilities throughout the country are of high quality and are reliable. To lawfully perform mammography, each facility must prominently display a certificate issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This certificate serves as evidence that the facility meets quality standards.
It is important for women to practice the elements of good breast health. It is suggested women:
- Obtain regular mammography screening starting at the age of 40
- Obtain annual clinical breast exams
- Perform monthly breast-self exams
- Obtain a risk assessment from a physician