Health Observances

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Here are some startling facts about breast cancer:

  • Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women
  • It is also the second leading cause of death among women
  • About 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
  • Men can get breast cancer too
  • Caucasian women have the greatest risk of developing breast cancer but African-American women have a higher chance of getting a more aggressive form

Although these facts can be scary and intimidating, there is good news: due to increased screenings and early detection, deaths from breast cancer have been declining.

Join Baptist Memorial Health Care for the Pink Tie event taking place on October 5th. The Pink Tie event is a fashion show that features breast cancer survivors, inspiring Baptist patient stories, and information on breast cancer to promote Baptist breast health services and breast cancer awareness.

At Baptist we want to provide our patients with the information they need to live healthy lives, and in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease where malignant cells (cancer) develop in breast tissue. There are two main types of breast cancer: lobular carcinoma and ductal carcinoma. Lobular carcinoma is breast cancer that forms in the lobules that supply milk ducts with milk. Ductal carcinoma is breast cancer that develops in the inner lining of milk ducts. These tumors can spread throughout the body, but with early detection they can be isolated.

What causes breast cancer?

The exact causes of breast cancer are not known, and can vary from person to person. However knowing the risk factors of breast cancer can help you know if you or a loved one has an increased chance of developing it. Some women have heard that antiperspirants, underwire bras, miscarriages, and breast implants can raise their risk of developing breast cancer, but this is not true. Here are some real breast cancer risk factors:

  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Age, 80% of breast cancer occurs in women over 50 years old
  • Irregularities in breast tissue including density and benign lumps
  • Radiation exposure
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Increased estrogen exposure
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Breast cancer is usually diagnosed after a breast cancer screening or if a woman is experiencing breast cancer symptoms. Breast cancer symptoms can include:

  • Lump in a breast
  • Pain in the armpit or breast
  • Changes in shape or size of breast
  • Changes in the appearance of nipples
  • Skin irregularities on the breast or nipple

Some diagnostic tests used to detect breast cancer include:

  • Breast exam given by a physician
  • Mammogram x-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy
  • Breast MRI

Diagnosis is typically given in terms of stages that describe the extent of the cancer including whether or not it has metastasized (spread to another area of the body). A cancer's stage is used to devise a treatment plan for breast cancer.

What are the treatment options for breast cancer?

At Baptist we invoke a multidisciplinary approach in one location, the Baptist Cancer Center. A team of oncologists, physicians, radiologists, counselors, and patient navigators care for cancer patients throughout treatment. This team of caregivers will help you decide on the best treatment plan and will share all the options available to you. These options will vary based on the stage and advanced nature of breast cancer. Treatment options can include:

  • Surgery (lumpectomies or mastectomies)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone blocking therapy
  • Biological treatments (targeted drugs)

What can I do to decrease my risk of breast cancer?

Making certain lifestyle changes can impact your risk of developing breast cancer. Eating healthier, getting daily exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, and reducing your alcohol consumption can help you decrease your chances of developing the disease. Breastfeeding moms also decrease their risk of developing breast cancer. Limiting postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy can also lower your risk. Regular breast exams are important as well. If you aren't sure if you need yearly breast exams, ask a physician from Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women for a consultation to discuss your risk factors and when to schedule a breast health exam.

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