October is upon us and that means breast cancer awareness month. Through education and early detection, many strides have been made against this scourge of a disease. While breast cancer takes center stage, we need to be vigilant against cancer year-round. Understanding risk factors (both environmental and hereditary) can go a long way to early detection and survival.
The key to defeating breast cancer or any other cancer is early detection. Through the years treatments have become more effective and survival rates have increased through research. The sooner any treatment can begin, the better your odds are in defeating any disease. Below is an example of the improvement in survival rates for several different types of childhood cancers:
Improvements have been made through education and self-examination, but the American Cancer Society estimates approximately 250,000 new cases detected in 2016 and of those cases almost 41,000 will result in death. Screening for prostate cancer and colorectal cancer can catch these diseases in the early stages while they are still treatable. Work with your doctor especially once you have reached certain ages. For instance, both men and women should be screened for colon and rectal cancer to detect both cancer and polyps which can lead to cancer. Mammograms for women should probably start at age 40 (according to the American Cancer Society) and after ages 45-54, women should get one every year. Family history and risk factors should be discussed with your doctor to determine your mammogram rate, so when and how frequently might be different for you. A great way to train young women how to do a self screening is with a breast cancer model. It can teach valuable skills to detecting lumps early. Screening for cervical cancer should start for women after the age of 21 and should be tested every three years until the age of 30. After that, testing should be done every five years. These numbers can change if an abnormal test result is achieved.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your oncologist will choose the best path to potentially removing any cancerous cells from your body. Often radiation and chemotherapy are utilized in tandem to combat the disease. Surgery can also be an option depending on the type of cancer or stage. Many women may feel self-conscious due to hair loss during treatment. Fashionable knit caps or very stylish scarves are available in many different sizes, colors and patterns to meet your personal style. Even scarves with long sashes can be worn during treatment. After a mastectomy or lumpectomy, women can opt for a breast form if necessary. For men going through prostate cancer surgery, incontinence can be an issue. Briefs specially designed for men are available to take the worry out of everyday activities. Many treatments now involve using our own immune system to battle cancer. Taking an immunonutrition supplement can help keep your immune system strong during the battle. Use every weapon at your disposal!!
Yes, October is breast cancer awareness month, but let’s not forget the fight against other cancers throughout the year. Get screened early and often and be sure to encourage our family and loved ones to do the same. It’s only through education and testing that we can beat cancer while the researchers do the hard work finding a cure.
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
In 2006, ...
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