October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you had your mammogram yet? It is vitally important that we get ourselves checked. The rate of survival in women in the African American community is much lower than in White women. African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer.
Breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women under 45, even though White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer. Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
With these kinds of statistics, it is vitally important that we, as African-American women, get ourselves screened early on; especially if you have a family history of breast cancer. Should you not have a family history of breast cancer, or do not know your family history, it is recommended that you begin screening for breast cancer earlier than the suggested age of 40.
It said that 12% of women in the US, about 1 in 8, will develop an invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. Although low in comparison to women, about 1 in 1100 men will also develop and invasive form of breast cancer.
Both men and women should be checked for breast cancer; especially in the African-American community where our survival rate is much lower than other races.
Some doctors suggest that the reason for the high mortality rate in the African-American community is due to the lack of diagnoses in the early stages. Most African-Americans will have developed some form of cancer, but not know it until the third or fourth stage. And by then, the chances of surviving are minimal.
It is important that we understand our risks for breast cancer. Keep in mind, that 85% of breast cancer occurs in women that do not have a family history of breast cancer. However, the risk of breast cancer doubles if one has had a mother, sister, or daughter that has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
We must understand the risks when it comes to breast cancer. Genetics, being overweight, and being exposed to chemicals in plastic have all been said to play a role in breast cancer. Our family history and genetics can increase our risk for developing breast cancer. That is why it is imperative to have frequent screenings and begin earlier than the suggested age of 40, if your family has a history of breast cancer.
Being overweight may also contribute to a higher risk of developing breast cancer, as well as a recurrence of cancer returning. Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk than those who are not.
It is vital for both women and men to get checked early. Sometimes, you will not have any symptoms to know that cancer has invaded your body. In the beginning, the cancer may not cause you any symptoms. But if you notice anything unusual, like a soreness or a lump or tenderness, be certain to get it checked out immediately.
According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
swelling of all or part of the breast
skin irritation or dimpling
nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
a nipple discharge other than breast milk
a lump in the underarm area
These changes may be signs of less serious conditions which may not be cancerous. However, any breast changes should be immediately checked out by a doctor.
Early detection is the best chance of survival. Regular check ups and physicals can help us to ascertain our risk for breast cancer. If you feel something out of the ordinary; if you experience any of the symptoms above; if you have a family history of breast cancer, then get yourself screened immediately. A diagnosis of breast cancer does not have to mean the end. Many strides have been made. But we must do our part, and be just as aggressive as cancer, by having regular check-ups and screenings.
For more information on breast cancer, you may visit: http://www.cancer.org