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5 Ways to Be Proactive About Breast Cancer

multi cultural women surrounding breast cancer ribbon

Did you know that 1 in 8 women are affected by breast cancer? That Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than White women? Or that breast cancer affects men as well?

It’s October, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room: breast cancer. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for this article, we’re talking all about the “C” word, what you need to know and steps you can take to be proactive.

Breast Cancer: The Stats

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. According to BreastCancer.org and The American Cancer Society:

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • About 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2020. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.
  • About 42,170 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2020 from breast cancer.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer besides lung cancer.
  • As of January 2020, there are more than 3.5 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2020, it's estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
  • In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than White women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower. Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk of breast cancer because of a higher rate of BRCA mutations.
  • A woman’s breast cancer risk nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

(Source: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics)

How to Be Proactive About Breast Cancer

While it may be difficult to talk about the “C” word for many, avoiding the conversation isn’t going to change the statistics. The American Cancer Society attributes early detection with the decline of breast cancer death rates by 40% from 1989 to 2016 among women. That’s why we must educate ourselves on breast cancer and take the necessary steps to check in on your health.

Here are a few steps you can take to be proactive about breast cancer:

  1. Know your family’s medical history and history of cancer
  2. Perform monthly self-exams
  3. Talk to your doctor if you notice a lump or change in your breasts
  4. Start getting annual mammograms at 40 years old (according to the American Cancer Society), but you should start even earlier if you have a history of breast cancer in your family
  5. Consult a health coach to discuss how you can make adjustments to daily habits that will push you toward living a healthier lifestyle

Take control of your body, health and future today. To learn more about breast cancer, early detection, symptoms and healthy lifestyle habits, visit National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.