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From the Director's Desk: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Get to know your breasts! 

Millions of women and thousands of men across the globe have been impacted by breast cancer.

In the U.S., breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women and the second leading cause of death for this group. Research shows that one in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is considered cancer if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. 

Unfortunately, the exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but there are risk factors that make some people more susceptible to the disease than others. Those risk factors include:

  • Being a woman
  • Having a family history of breast cancer,
  • Getting older, (most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50),
  • Experiencing menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55,
  • Having dense breasts,
  • Having a personal history of breast cancer or certain non-cancerous breast diseases and
  • Being previously treated using radiation therapy.

Although these risk factors can’t be changed, there are some that can, including physical inactivity, being overweight or obese, eating a poor diet, smoking and drinking alcohol. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is extremely beneficial because it helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer, even for those who are at high risk.

Whether you’re low, moderate or high risk for breast cancer, it’s important to be aware of your breasts. Becoming familiar with how they look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. These changes can be found during a breast self-exam, which every woman is encouraged to do once a month. Other forms of early detection to be aware of include clinical breast exams and mammograms. Click the links to find out how and when these procedures should be performed.

Thanks for stopping by the Director’s Corner, where your health is our priority!