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30 breast cancer awareness tips


In honor of October Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the 30th anniversary of Monthly, we offer 30 facts and tips to increase breast cancer awareness:


  1. About 12 percent of U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes.
  2. Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow abnormally. Tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly. By the time a lump is large enough to feel, it may have been growing for as long as 10 years.
  3. The main types of breast cancer are ductal, cancer of the milk ducts, and lobular, a cancer found in the milk-producing lobules of the breast.
  4. Breast cancer symptoms include a lump or mass in the breast, breast swelling, breast or nipple pain, nipple discharge, skin irritation and swollen lymph nodes.
  5. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the U.S., second only to skin
  6. The American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 40 and older have annual mammograms.
  7. While two-dimensional mammograms are still considered the gold standard for early detection, clinical trials are beginning to demonstrate the benefits of tomosynthesis.
  8. Tomosynthesis allows breast radiologists to see through layers of tissue and examine areas of concern from all angles.
  9. Age and gender are the leading risk factors for breast cancer. About 80 percent of new cancers occur in women older than 50.
  10. Only 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed through generations of a family.
  11. High-risk women with a close relative who fought breast or ovarian cancer should be tested twice a year, starting at age 30 or younger, depending on the individual. They may also require anti-hormone medications or lifestyle counseling to reduce their risk.
  12. A whopping 70 percent of breast biopsies are benign. The remaining 30 percent of patients — women and men — have an invasive carcinoma that is curable.
  13. Deciding on the best treatment for breast cancer involves the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the cancer’s sensitivity to certain hormones.
  14. As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they are at Stage 0, a possible precursor to what could be a breast cancer tumor.
  15. Cancer treatment may include chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue or surgery to remove cancerous tissue.
  16. Oncologists today can better target radiation and use more specific doses that do less damage to breast tissues. 
  17. A mastectomy removes all or part of the breast, while a lumpectomy removes the breast lump.
  18. In the past, radical mastectomies took everything — the breast tissue, muscles, nipples and nearby lymph nodes. Today, surgeons perform skin-sparing, nipple-sparing and scar-sparing mastectomy whenever possible, leading to better cosmetic and reconstructive results.
  19. Breast reconstruction can be done by a plastic surgeon at the same time as the mastectomy, or at a later date.
  20. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights law requires most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction, including plastic surgery on the unaffected breast to improve symmetry.
  21. The most comprehensive study published by National Journal of the National CancerInstitute showed no survival benefit for women with bilateral mastectomies who do not have a genetic predisposition to cancer. 
  22. Even moderate alcohol use can increase the risk of breast cancer.
  23. Women have a higher risk of breast cancer if they received hormone replacement therapy with estrogen for several years or more.
  24. Controllable risk factors include living a healthy lifestyle, the same kind that promotes longevity. This includes eating a nutrient-dense diet of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and lean meats; regular exercise, such as walking to maintain weight and Pilates to relive stress and build strength; weight loss, especially after menopause; and not smoking and limiting alcohol use.breastcancer
  25. Annual medical exams and mammograms are critical to breast cancer prevention, and can even be life-saving in many cases. Monthly self-exams are also important.
  26. If breast cancer is found early, there are more treatment options and a greater chance of survival, especially in the rapidly evolving field of breast cancer care.
  27. For women with Stage I, II, or III breast cancer, the main goal is to treat the cancer and prevent it from returning. For women with Stage IV cancer, the goal is to improve symptoms and help them live longer. In most cases, Stage IV breast cancer cannot be cured.
  28. Breast cancer survival rates have increased due to a number of factors, such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease.
  29. Today, more than 2.8 million American women have a history of breast cancer.  
  30. Contact the American Cancer Society to find out about support groups in the Lowcountry. Go to http://www.cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/index


Red Hot Mama’s: 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, Sun City Lake House. Hilton Head Hospital and Coastal Carolina Hospital are continuing their free women’s health series, Red Hot Mama’s, outsmarting menopause. Dr. Randall B. Evans, M.D., Pulmonologist will present: “Sleep and Menopause: Sleepless in Menopause City” on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 5 p.m. located at the Sun City Lake House. Sleep problems are common among women of all ages, but they increase during menopause. Sleep is an important factor in our health, cognitive function; and it greatly impacts women’s mood and overall sense of well-being. Dr. Evans will discuss the importance of sleep to our health and how the symptoms of menopause may be causing difficulty of sleep, and what women can do about sleep problems and sleep disorders. For more information or to register, call 1-877-582-2737.

WIRE Breast Health Seminar with Dr. Ringer: Noon-1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Moss Creek Clubhouse.

Rockin’ the Pink Walk: 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Oct. 3, Red Cedar Elementary, Bluffton. Hosted by the Bluffton Fire Auxiliary. In its first five years, the walk has raised more than $51,000, which was donated to local charities that help women battling this disease. A large part of the event is a silent auction. The planning committee meets at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month at Bluffton Township Fire District headquarters. All interested parties are welcome. Businesses interested in becoming sponsors should call 843-757- 2800 or by email at ljhart@blufftonfd.com. Find more information at facebook.com/Lowcountrybreastcancerwalk.

Pink Hair Event: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5 at Bluffton Medical Campus; 2-4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5, Hilton Head Hospital. For a $10 donation, a stylist will add a pink hair extension to your hair. All proceeds will go to the Bluffton Jasper Volunteers in Medicine Clinic.

Pink Partini: 5:30-8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, Mediterranean Bistro. OC

Breast Health Awareness Event: 1-3 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, Share Center Shelter Cove.

Wire Breast Health Seminar with Dr. Ringer: Noon-1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, Jasper’s Porch Restaurant

Central Oak Church Pink Out: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, Spanish Wells Clubhouse.

Wine and Design Breast Cancer Awareness Event: 5-7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19, 1536 Fording Island Road, Suite 103.

Bras for a Cure: 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, Powerhouse Gym. A Bras for a Cure Festival featuring fun, food and fitne s. 843- 706-9700, www.powerhousegymhhisc.com


Avoid becoming overweight. Obesity raises the risk of breast cancer after menopause, the time of life when breast cancer most often occurs. Avoid gaining weight over time, and try to maintain a body-mass index under 25 (calculators can be found online).

Eat healthy to avoid tipping the scale. Embrace a diet high in vegetables and fruit and low in sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods. Eat lean protein such as fish or chicken breast and eat red meat in moderation, if at all. Eat whole grains. Choose vegetable oils over animal fats.

Keep physically active. Research suggests that increased physical activity, even when begun later in life, reduces overall breast-cancer risk by about 10 percent to 30 percent. All it takes is moderate exercise like a 30-minute walk five days a week to get this protective effect.

Drink little or no alcohol. Alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Women should limit intake to no more than one drink per day, regardless of the type of alcohol.

Don’t smoke. Research suggests that longterm smoking is associated with increased risk of breast cancer in some women.

If you bear children, breast-feed your babies for as long as possible. Women who breast-feed their babies for at least a year in total have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer later.

Avoid hormone replacement therapy. Menopausal hormone therapy increases risk for breast cancer. If you must take hormones to manage menopausal symptoms, avoid those that contain progesterone and limit their use to less than three years. “Bioidentical hormones” and hormonal creams and gels are no safer than prescription hormones and should also be avoided.

Get regular breast cancer screenings. Follow your doctor or health care provider’s recommendations to decide what type of screening you need and how often you need it.