October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Oct 5, 2023

Abarca is raising awareness on how to save a life with education and early detection. 

Now and always, Abarca is dedicated to leading a better way in healthcare and solutions to improve women’s health and quality of life in our communities. Staying healthy throughout your life can lower your risk of developing cancer and improve your chances of surviving breast and other types of cancers if they occur. Early detection is essential in this fight. By bringing awareness to breast cancer, we can save lives! 

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, with only lung cancer killing more women each year. Additionally, a woman’s chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 (or about 2.5%). The American Cancer Society also estimates the following trends for the disease in 2023:

  • About 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. 
  • About 55,720 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) will be diagnosed.  
  • About 43,700 women will die from breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease that happens when the cells in the breast area grow faster than their regular rate. The cells then grow and divide, creating a tumor. Many kinds of breast cancers can also happen in different parts of the breast. Even though breast cancer usually develops in biological women, men can get it too. 

Symptoms and warning signs 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, different people experience different breast cancer symptoms, while some do not have any signs or symptoms at all. Many symptoms can also occur alongside other conditions that might not be cancer. Thus, screenings are essential and can save your life! Some of the top warning signs for breast cancer include the following: 

  • Any new or concerning lumps in the breast or underarm areas.
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk.
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Risk factors

The following risk factors can make it more likely to develop cancer; however, having them doesn’t directly mean you will get cancer at a certain point in your life. Many people who develop cancer also do not have any known factors. These include:

  • Aging 
  • Personal and family history of breast conditions or cancer
  • Inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
  • Radiation exposure
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Never been pregnant or getting menopause at an older age
  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy

About mammograms

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat, and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. 

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women between the ages of 50 to 74, who are at average risk for breast cancer, get a mammogram every two years. Likewise, women ages 40 to 49 should talk to their doctor or other healthcare providers about when to start and how often to get a mammogram and Breast Cancer screening

Lower your chances

While you can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day
  • Breastfeed your children, if possible

Also, if you are taking or have been told to take hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, ask your doctor about the risks and determine if it is right for you. If you have a family history of BC or inherited changes in your genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk. 

Being familiar with how your breasts look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. If you or someone you know has breast cancer, various treatments are available depending on the cancer type and level. The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to women across the United States. Find a screening program near you!