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Understanding breast cancer

The month of October was designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) in 1985 after the American Cancer Society paired with the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. The purpose of NBCAM is to raise breast cancer awareness and to promote mammographies.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer starts when the cells in the breast begins to grow out of control. The cells in the breast usually form a tumor that can be seen on an X-ray or felt as a lump.

Malignant (cancerous) tumors are caused when the cells invade surrounding tissues or spread to other areas of the body. Breast cancer must be diagnosed by a medical professional and can be treated through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Lab tests or imaging are required for a clear diagnosis. Sometimes mastectomies are needed to removed the cancer as well as ensure that it does not return. Symptoms for breast cancer include a lump or lumps located in the breasts, bloody discharge from the nipple or changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast.

There are more than 200,000 cases of breast cancer in the U.S. per year. While breast cancer is most common in women, there are rare cases in which men develop it as well.

In 2016, about 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. An estimated 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed. According to the American Cancer Society, CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer.

Around 40,450 women will die from breast cancer in 2016, but continued research and treatment has resulted in more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

This number includes women who are currently being treated as well as women who have completed treatment. The best way to increase the survivor rate is to stay healthy. By eating healthy, exercising, avoiding tobacco and staying protected in the sun, chances of developing breast cancer are decreased. The American Cancer Society suggests regular cancer screenings for men and women.

University Recreation will be hosting their seventh annual Breast Cancer Awareness 5k in February. For more information, visit apsu.edu/recreation/breast-cancer-awareness-5k.

Those wishing to donate to breast cancer research or learn more about breast cancer can refer to the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure or the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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