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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 1, 2014

With the start of the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HoganWillig wants to make sure Western New Yorkers are well informed about this devastating disease. Knowledge is power and prevention is key. Here are some quick facts about the disease:

  • One in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed and approximately 410 will die each year.

Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.  Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer. Be sure to see your health care provider if you:

  • Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from the rest of your breast
  • Find a new lump (or any change) that feels different from your other breast
  • Feel something that is different from what you felt before

If you are unsure whether you should have a lump (or any change) checked, it is best to see a provider. Although a lump (or any change) may be nothing to worry about, you will have the peace of mind that it has been checked. By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast.  Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.

What’s the good news? In the U.S., we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options. It is recommended that women 40 and older have mammograms every 1 to 2 years.

We live in time where technology is not only helping doctors detect earlier, treat, and cure breast cancer, but it can also help people become more proactive about their breast health. An app created by the National Breast Cancer Foundation called Early Detection Plan: Breast Cancer allows users to be reminded to perform a routine breast self-exam and schedule clinical breast exams and mammograms, depending on age and health history. The app also functions as a resource in which users can learn more about clinical breast exams, mammograms, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and how to perform a breast self-exam. This app can be found in the iTunes app store and is free.