Nurse’s Notes-Breast cancer: Knowing the numbers

Kasey Hooks, R.N., Contributing Writer

Cancer has been a big, scary health issue in the world for a long time. Fear is a normal reaction and feeling to have, however, becoming more educated and aware can reduce these fears and worries. Because October is the month for breast cancer education and awareness, I think that it is important for all women to learn about breast cancer.

Breastcancer.org, which is a nonprofit organization, said, “Breast cancer is always a mistake in the genetic material.” It is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast.

Our bodies are made up of cells. All cells go through a growth process where the old cells are replaced by newer, healthy cells. When cancer occurs, the cells do not go through this growth process correctly. The cells make “mistakes” and alter the makeup of the original cell causing cells that are not normal. These cells are not normal and continue to form, making a tumor. This process is how cancer begins.

The cancer cells begin to take over the healthy tissues and spread to other areas. Breast cancer can be prevented or found early if you’re educated on how to do so, which is why education and awareness is so important for women. However, men, don’t think you are excluded because you, too, can get breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a worldwide disease that mostly affects women but can also affect men. According to Susan G. Komen, in South Carolina alone, an estimated 123 women per 100,000 women will get breast cancer. It is also estimated that 24 women per 100,000 women in South Carolina will die from breast cancer. Looking at the U.S. as a whole, it is estimated that 123 per 100,000 women will get breast cancer, and 22 per 100,000 women will die from the disease. According to a recent article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, it is reported that, “One in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.”

According to Komen, one percent of the male population will get breast cancer. Officials estimated in 2015 that the male population in the U.S. would have 2,350 new diagnosed cases and 440 deaths from breast cancer.

Breast cancer is among one of the most common cancers that is diagnosed. Education and prevention is key in breast cancer. Understanding what breast cancer is and how to prevent it is the most important thing to know about the disease.

Breast cancer symptoms can vary. Some of the symptoms to look for include lumps in the breast, swelling in the area and skin changes in the area. Sometimes the cancer can be symptomless.

Every female should do a self-breast exam each month when they begin growing breast tissue; for most females this is around age 13. Once females reach age 40, another exam should take place – the mammogram.

There are many healthy lifestyle choices that can help to prevent the development of cancer such as eating healthy, maintaining  a healthy weight, exercising daily, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake.

Although breast cancer is common and feared, we can be calmed by understanding it and knowing the things we can do to prevent it.

There are many resources to help us learn more information on breast cancer. Some reliable resources would be a GYN doctor, Susan G. Komen Foundation’s online website and support groups. There are also local support foundation groups, such as Zeta Tau Alpha, in most areas. Make sure you are educated on breast cancer, and begin screening yourself today.