October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is an important time each year to raise awareness about breast cancer and build community among survivors. Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women, next to skin cancer – one in eight women will be diagnosed with it. While breast cancer is strongly biased towards women, it is also possible for men to get it. These statistics may be shocking, but they reveal the reality of this disease. One thing that can help is being informed. The Canadian Cancer Society is a resource available to Canadians that contains a number of links that you can use to address particular areas of concern. There, you can find information on topics such as screening, prognosis, breast reconstruction and supportive care. You can also call their Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-888-939-3333 to speak with an information specialist. Their website is: https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/breast-cancer/?region=bc.
Check for early signs of breast cancer:
• change in size or shape of the breast
• a lump or thick area on the breast
• puckering or dimpling of the skin
• redness or rash on the skin or areola
• change in position or shape of nipple or nipple retraction
• consistent pain in breast or armpit
• discharge from nipples
• swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone
Changes in the breast such as breast pain or a lump are not necessarily signs of cancer, so don’t immediately panic! These can be caused by routine breast changes – in fact, 80% of the time, lumps are not cancerous. However, it is a good idea to see your doctor as soon as you can after noticing a change in your breasts, as early detection is key to preventing breast cancer. It is important to note that breast changes are the primary symptom of breast cancer; even if you otherwise feel well, pay a visit to your doctor.
For more resources, check out the CURE Foundation.