Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Final thoughts about breast cancer

Thanks to “Pink up” fundraising efforts around the country, mammograms may be available free of charge for women who cannot afford them.  Mammograms detect cancer early when of the best results for a cure can be obtained.  If you have not had a mammogram recently because of your financial status, call your local chapter of American Cancer Society or local hospital/medical center and ask if it’s possible to get a mammogram through the “pink up” fundraisers in your town. 

Dealing with any cancer is scary.  A person dealing with cancer should not try to deal with it alone.  Team with your doctors and learn about your illness.  Allow your loved ones (both family and friends) to give you support.  Cancer support groups can be found locally in many communities and through the American Cancer Society website:   http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/SupportProgramsServices/find-support-programs-and-services-in-your-area-landing  Don’t tackle this illness alone. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Treatment options for breast cancer

After the lump or mass is found, what is next?  Work with your family doctor/primary care provider to get diagnosis and appropriate treatment.  You will probably see specialists (maybe several). The options are many and include Surgery, Hormone therapy, Radiation, Chemotherapy, Targeted therapy, bone-directed therapy.  The doctors who become involved in your treatment will develop a plan for you as an individual who has a specific type of breast cancer.  Talk to those doctors, learn about your specific type of cancer and what to expect from the treatment plan.  http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-treating-general-info

Friday, October 26, 2012

Risk Factors and Prevention for Breast Cancer

As with every illness, there are some risk factors we cannot change.  We cannot change our age, our race, our gender, and the genes we inherited from our parents. 

There are some lifestyle behaviors which researchers believe help protect us from developing breast cancer.
  These include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet which includes fruits and vegetables, keeping our body weight within a normal range (easier said than done) and if you drink alcohol, limit it to one drink per day maximum.  More information about risk factors can be found at the American Cancer Society website at http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-risk-factors

Can we prevent breast cancer?  Currently we do not have the ability to prevent breast cancer.  Hopefully some day researchers will tell us how to prevent breast cancer.  For now, early detection strategies include mammograms and breast self-examination.  Early detection and treatments save lives. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

Mammograms often find breast cancers early before symptoms occur.  However, common symptoms include changes in the appearance and feel of the nipple, breasts and discharge from nipples.  According the Susan B Komen website, warning signs include
·        “lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area,
·        swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
·        change in the size or shape of the breast
·        dimpling or puckering of the skin
·        itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
·        pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
·        nipple discharge that starts suddenly
·        new pain in one spot that does not go away”  http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/WarningSigns.html

Monday, October 22, 2012

October--Breast Cancer Awareness

One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.  Did you know that men can develop breast cancer?  According to the Susan G Komen website, 1.2 per 100,000 men will develop breast cancer.  http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/FactsForMen.html
What is breast cancer?  I call cancer “cells gone wild.”  I am describing what happens when our normal body cells change into abnormal cells and start to grow rapidly and out of control.  There are multiple types of breast cancer depending on which breast cells are involved.  Let’s define some terms that doctors and medical people may use: 

Tumor means a mass—may or may not be cancerous. 
Benign means not cancer.
In situ means the breast cancer is small and still confined to breast tissues
Metastatic means the breast cancer has spread outside local tissues to the lymphatic system and to other parts of the body.
Invasive means the cancer has grown and now invades tissues close to the original site. 
Two of the specific types of cancer include ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma.  Ductal carcinoma (cancer cells involving the ducts –the connecting channel which carries the milk from the lobules to the nipple)  Lobular cancinoma (cancer cells involving the lobules—glands which produce milk)