Breast cancer is diagnosed among women in the United States every two minutes. In Massachusetts alone, breast cancer accounts for one-third of all cancers diagnosed in women. Both men and women are affected by this disease.
However, with advancements in modern medicine and increased awareness, it is possible to beat breast cancer. Currently, there are 2.8 million survivors of the disease living in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, millions of people join together to promote awareness and help continue the search for a cure.
Make Healthy Choices
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is important to live a healthy lifestyle and take an active role in medical decisions to reduce the risk of cancers and other health issues.
- Eat healthy food that is full of nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Get 75 minutes of physical activity per week.
- Get enough sleep.
- Limit alcohol use to less than a drink per day.
- Avoid chemicals that cause cancer and reduce exposure to radiation during medical tests.
- Women, talk to your doctor about the risks of hormone replacement therapy and birth control.
- Breastfeed your babies, if possible.
- Know your family health history. If someone in your family was previously diagnosed with the disease, you may be at increased risk.
Breast cancer screenings can save your life. Age and family history are two factors that can influence how often a person should have adult screenings. If cancer is detected early, it may be treated and as a result, increase chances of survival. There are three different screening methods.
- Self-examination: In the privacy of your home, you can search for breast cancer symptoms such as lumps or changes in size or shape of the breasts.
- Clinical examination: Your doctor performs a more in-depth check of your breast, searching for any abnormal signs.
- Mammogram: Doctors use a low-dose X-ray to detect any signs of breast cancer. Although the mammogram can feel uncomfortable, it is the best test doctors have for early discovery of cancer.
What to do if you are diagnosed
Though each case is different, there are several ways to approach a diagnosis.
- Ask your doctor questions about options, including treatment and surgery.
- Learn more about breast cancer. Having accurate information can help you make decisions that are right for you.
- Seek counseling or confide in a loved one during this difficult time.
- Join a support group to talk and learn from others with similar experiences.
It is important to remember that you are not alone if you receive a breast cancer diagnosis. In addition to the support of your family and friends, the Commonwealth offers many resources to help those diagnosed with the disease during this difficult time.
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