The Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us. October is that time of the year were you will see shelves packed with pink products and hundreds of social media posts that have the footer: #pinkoctober.
And this is all for a good cause.
It has never been more important than now to promote this movement because early detection, often through screening, can catch the disease when it is most treatable. This is why we need you to join the campaign and raise awareness. You never know, you might save a life.
In this article, we’re going to define breast cancer, talk about what you can do to help and the symptoms and signs of breast cancer.
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What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the female’s breast and it usually starts when cells begin to grow abnormally. Breast cancer usually forms a tumor that can be felt as a lump or seen on an x-ray scan.
Most of the people affected by breast cancer are women, but men can also get affected by breast cancer, too.
Do not be alarmed when you feel a lump on your breasts, sometimes people can grow non-cancerous breast tumors which are benign. But if you feel a lump on your breast, it’s wise to get checked by your doctor because some types of malignant breast lumps can increase one’s chance of getting breast cancer.
Breast cancers can begin from different parts of the breast.
- Most breast cancers start in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, and they are known as the ductal cancers.
- There are cases where breast cancer can start in the glands that make breast milk, and these are referred to as lobular cancers.
- Other types of breast cancer are not so common, and these include angiosarcoma and phyllodes tumor.
- Although they are really not considered to be breast cancers, sarcomas and lymphomas also start in other tissues in the breast.
Breast cancers come in different types, shapes and sizes. The most common ones include invasive carcinoma and ductal carcinoma in situ. As mentioned earlier, angiosarcoma and phyllodes tumors are less common.
Breast Cancer Symptoms and Signs
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chance of a successful treatment. So it's important to check your breasts regularly and see your doctor if you notice a change.
Here are the common breast cancer signs and symptoms:
- a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit – you might feel the lump but not see it
- a change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
- a change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
- a change to the nipple, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
- rash or crusting around the nipple
- any unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
- changes in size or shape of the breast
Pain on your breasts is not usually a sign of breast cancer. But if you feel pain on your breast most of the time, do not be alarmed –just get hold of your doctor.
Noticing an unusual change on your breast doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer, and most breast changes are not because of cancer. But it’s important to visit your doctor once you notice any change.
What you can do to help
There are many things you can do to help promote the Breast Cancer movement. Some people observe the campaign by wearing pink while others spread the word through the use of hashtags on Social Media. Here are some of the things you can do to participate in this worthy cause:
Share a story
Cancer survivors, medical professionals and caregivers have a chance of sharing their stories of how cancer impacted their lives. This is done so as to encourage and motivate some other people who are battling cancer. If you go on Google and type ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, you will definitely see thousands of organizations and various links that will take you to a platform where you can share your experience.
Pink is the dress code that is associated with the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s not just about the dress code, but some organizations show their support by changing their websites’ background colors to pink for a whole month. Some companies hold Pink Days so as to encourage their employees to get involved in the campaign.
Every cent counts, and when it comes to combating cancer, no donation is little. The donated money funds life-saving cancer research. Large and small companies use this Campaign to make donations. You don’t have to have a company to donate, whatever you can give is appreciated.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in October 2020.