Now that it's October, you may be seeing more pink around town. Its prevalence might be because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is a national campaign that seeks to educate all Americans on the condition and how it affects millions of women throughout the country.
Breast cancer affects one in eight women at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It's currently the second deadliest cancer. However, with early detection and treatment, patients have the potential to make a full recovery.
ACA eliminates co-pays for screenings
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the HHS, made a statement about the significance of this month and how there is an ongoing need for researchers to find new and better ways to treat and prevent breast cancer. She stresses that women need to take advantage of mammogram screenings, as well as other preventative services, which now require no co-payments or out-of-pocket expenses, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women between the ages of 50 and 74 should routinely receive a mammogram at least once every two years. Some younger females may need to begin earlier, as recommended by their healthcare provider. In addition, it's important for women to perform self-breast examinations on themselves regularly. Any unusual growth or lump in or near the breast - no matter how small - should be checked out just to be safe. This is especially critical during pregnancy. Since the breasts swell while you're with child, it may be hard to distinguish whether new growth is natural or abnormal. Whenever you have a concern, ask your doctor.
Are you at risk?
There are also certain risks that may make a woman more likely to develop breast cancer. For instance, as you age, your risk of developing the cancer increases. Also, if your family has a history of breast cancer, there's a chance it could be hereditary.
For women who are diagnosed, there is a lot that medical professionals can do now. Different treatments are available, depending on the stage the cancer is in, how big the tumor is and a patient's general health. Surgery is currently the most common procedure used to treat breast cancer. Surgeons can remove infected tissues from the breast, whether it's a small tumor or the entire breast. Once cancer-free, these women can opt to have breast reconstruction, which rebuilds the breast so that its appearance is normal. Other treatment methods include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.
No matter who you are, breast cancer is scary, and if you have it, you may feel afraid and overwhelmed. It's important that you seek help from your family and friends among all the doctors' appointments, and do what you can to relax.
Do you know any women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer? What were their experiences? Did any cancer survivors you know have successful pregnancies afterward? Leave your answers in the comments section!