As October begins, so too does Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 42,000 women and 500 men die each year due to this invasive cancer. So let’s talk about the facts.
According to cancer.gov, breast cancer is described as an uncontrollable growth of breast cells or a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Breast cancer is always caused by a genetic abnormality, although only 5-10% of cases are due to abnormalities inherited from your mother or father. In actuality, 85-90% of breast cancer cases are the result of genetic abnormalities caused by the aging process and “wear and tear” of life.
No scientific evidence claims that breast cancer is preventable, but education on the topic is always important. Although you cannot always detect breast cancer when performing an exam on yourself, it’s still a good start to protecting yourself in the long run.
Two to three days after your period, start by raising one arm and feeling around on one breast and armpit at a time with the pads of your finger. While doing this, there are a few different motions that are important to know, such as vertical ups and downs, wedges and circular movements. You’re feeling around and looking for any lumps, abnormalities, skin dimpling or color disorientation. Nipple deformation, color changes or leaks of any fluid are common indicators of breast cancer.
Performing self-exams is proactive, but getting physical examinations by a health professional every year is still necessary and important.
As reported by breastcancer.org, other than breast exams, there are three main procedures to screen for breast cancer.
Thermography and tissue sampling are more commonly used when a woman has a first degree relative who has had or has breast or ovarian cancer. However, mammography is the most conventional screening test for breast cancer.
Mammography is the process of using low energy X-rays to photograph the breasts. Doctors are able to identify breast cancer up to three years early with mammograms. Typically, when women are between the ages of 40 to 45, they should start getting mammograms yearly. Women aged 50-74 should be getting it done twice a year.
Although breast cancer rarely affects young women, it’s never too early to start laying the groundwork to protect yourself in the future.
“You don’t realize how horrible breast cancer is until you have it or someone you know or love has it,” pre-nursing sophomore Alyssa Way said.
Way is the Think Pink chairman for Zeta Tau Alpha, a sorority at Ferris. Think Pink is the sorority’s philanthropy. Each year, Zeta chapters across the country hosting events and distributing pink ribbons to engage their respective campuses and raise awareness for breast cancer in the community.
Alyssa Way is very passionate about the position she holds in her sorority. Although this was her first year taking on the responsibility, she hopes to continue her position in bringing awareness to breast cancer.
“This position is so near and dear to my heart because of my mom, who lost her battle to cancer in 2019… Every October, I get the chance to meet people affected by breast cancer. It’s important to remember no one fights alone,” Way said.
Educating young adults before they are at risk for developing breast cancer is essential to helping future generations have a stronger chance of beating it.