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Precautions, screenings vital to combat breast cancer

Breast cancer is no laughing matter and every woman should do what she can to help prevent and detect it early on.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and everyone should be more aware of what this disease is and what measures can be taken to detect it early on or prevent late stage cancer. About 12 percent of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime, according to breastcancer.org.

Breast cancer is caused by mutated genes in breast cells. Tumors can form, often in milk-producing glands, and are at risk of metastasizing. Cancerous cells grow uncontrollably and can travel through healthy breast tissue and can reach lymph nodes, which makes the cancer more likely to spread to other areas. Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer that affects women in the U.S. today and the second most commonly diagnosed.

Women are not the only ones affected with breast cancer, although it is highly more likely for a woman to develop breast cancer than a man. According to cancer.org, the estimates for breast cancer in men for 2016 are 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer and an estimated 440 deaths in men.

Women everywhere should do whatever they can to help prevent breast cancer or detect it in its early stages when it is easier to treat. Ways to help prevent breast cancer include things like a healthy diet exercising regularly, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.

There are also ways to help detect breast cancer early on. This includes breast self-exams (BSEs), mammograms and biopsies. It is extremely important for women to go through screenings and know the symptoms of breast cancer.

Around 40,450 women in the U.S. are predicted to die from breast cancer in 2016, according to breastcancer.org. That number seems a little high, doesn’t it? If more women live healthier lifestyles and go through regular screenings, perhaps this number can go down. Early detection is so important when it comes to treating cancer.

For instructions on doing a breast exam at home, go to nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam.

Yearly mammograms are one of the best tools doctors have to screen for breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Doctors can use mammograms to look for abnormalities such as thickened skin or areas that seem denser than usual. Mammograms can often be the first step toward finding and treating breast cancer.

Although there are no definitive ways to prevent breast cancer, there are plenty of steps to take in order to help prevent late stage breast cancer and detect it early on. Doing BSEs and having yearly mammograms can help let doctors find out if a woman has breast cancer before it becomes difficult to treat or deadly.

Every woman should be aware of the precautions and screenings that they can go through in order to reduce their risk and to, possibly, save their life.

About Jess Stephens

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