Breast Cancer Awareness

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.  Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.  Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common.  Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.

Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.  About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.  The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years.  If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your health care provider about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.

Are you worried about the cost? 

CDC offers free or low-cost mammograms.  You may be eligible for free or low-cost screenings if you meet these qualifications—
- You are between 40 and 64 years of age.
- You have no insurance, or your insurance does not cover screening exams.
- Your yearly income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.

In Ohio, call 1-844-430-BCCP (2227) Option #5 for Southwest region or visit odh.ohio.gov to determine if you’re eligible for free screening in our local area

What Are the Symptoms?

There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all.  Symptoms can include any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), and a new lump in the breast or underarm.  If you have any signs that worry you, see your health care provider right away.

How Can I Lower My Risk?

Some main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include being a woman, being older (most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older), and having changes in your breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2).  Most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors and no history of the disease in their families.  

Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk.  You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways—
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly (at least four hours a week).
- Research shows that lack of nighttime sleep can be a risk factor.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinogens) and chemicals that interfere with the normal function of the body.
- Limit exposure to radiation from medical imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans if not medically necessary.
- If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your health care provider about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breastfeed any children you may have, if possible.

If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, you may be at high risk for getting breast cancer.  Talk to your health care provider about more ways to lower your risk.

Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs.

For more information on any of the topics briefly presented above, go to:
https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/breastcancerawareness/index.htm

Beth Ewing, RN, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC
Parish Nurse

​​​​Beth Ewing, RN, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC serves as the Parish Nurse for both Abiding Christ and the Lutheran Saints in Ministry.