The 1st of October marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), an annual international health campaign to increase the awareness of the disease and to support early detection and treatment. The campaign starts on 1st October and ends on October 31st.
Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in women and there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries.
There is no adequate knowledge for its causes and only early diagnosis and treatment are available by which breast cancer can be cured. Women can survive breast cancer if found and treated early, a majority of deaths occur when it is diagnosed in late stages because of inadequate awareness of early detection and barriers to health services.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the time to spread the word about breast cancer screening. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. A Mammograms are low-level x-rays of the breast that check for Breast Cancer in women with no signs or symptoms and can help the doctor to figure out any abnormal changes in the breast.
Mammograms screening will help to find cancer when it is too small to feel. Most women who have breast cancer will not have any history of the disease in their families or no known risk factors, but if you are a woman, and older than 40 than chances of getting the risk of breast cancer increases.
What can you do to reduce the risk of Breast Cancer?
1. Exercise daily and keep your weight under control. Being overweight will increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Especially after menopause and older women who gain weight will have more estrogen coming from fat tissue which will increase your risk of getting breast cancer.
2. Be physically active. Physical activity is needed daily for a healthy body. Daily at least 150 minutes of intense activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity is needed each week for a healthy body.
3. Don’t sit for long hours. Studies have shown women who sit for long hours are more likely of developing cancer as compared to women who sit for less than 3 hours a day.
4. Limit or avoid alcohol and don’t smoke. Alcohol and smoking increase the risk of breast cancer, so limit yourself to alcohol consumption and stop smoking specially for premenopausal women.
5. Breastfeed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. Women who breastfeed for several months will get benefit from reducing their breast cancer risk.
Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of getting breast cancer, and improve chances of surviving if it occurs. Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.
If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them. If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.