October is breast cancer awareness month

(Courtesy Graphic)

(Courtesy Graphic)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly a quarter of a million women get breast cancer each year in the U.S. and 40,000 die from the disease. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer found in American women.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of the month is to promote awareness of the symptoms and warning signs of breast cancer, as well as to raise funding for research. An additional point to the campaign is promoting mammograms for early detection.

“If we find it early enough it is curable,” said Julie Holden, 21st Medical Group mammography technician. “We want to catch it while it’s small. It is a much better prognosis if we find it when it’s just starting out. That’s why we recommend annual screenings.”

The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, Holden said. Because there are no signals to indicate who will contract the disease in advance, annual screenings for women should start at age 40. For women with a history of breast cancer in their family screenings should start earlier.

According to the CDC, breast cancer mostly affects women who are older than 50, but younger women also are at risk. About 10 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S. are found in women younger than 45.

Warning signs of breast cancer can include a noticeable change in the size or shape of the breast, pain in an area of the breast, a change in the look of the nipple, or discharge from the nipple, among other symptoms, according to the CDC.

Any of the symptoms can come from a cause other than breast cancer, however, if they are present, report them to a health care professional to identify the cause. The professional will order a mammogram and an ultrasound to determine the cause.

‘The biggest warning sign is a palpable lump,” Holden said. “If the patient feels a new lump they need to get in and have it checked. That’s why the annual screening is so important. The screening can see things way before you can feel them, so we catch them earlier.”

Some facts about breast cancer:
- 1 in every 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. (Breastcancer.org)

- 41,211 women and 465 men died from breast cancer in the U.S. in 2014. (CDC.gov)

- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women regardless of race or ethnicity. (CDC.gov)

- Every 29 seconds, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer around the world, and in the U.S., every 2 minutes. (Susan G. Komen)

- At this time there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. This included women still being treated and those who have completed treatment. (Cancer.org)

- Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does occur. The lifetime risk for men in the U.S. is about 1 in 1,000. (Susan G. Komen)

For more information:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov

The American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org

Susan G. Komen organization: ww5.komen.org

Breastcancer.org