9 Facts About Breast Cancer Everyone Should Know
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed each year. In 2020 alone, more than 2.3 million people globally were diagnosed with breast cancer. In the United States, more than 284,000 breast cancer diagnoses are expected to be made in 2021.
The best way to raise awareness and protect yourself and your loved ones is to know the facts about breast cancer: Who it affects, how to detect it, and how it’s treated. Read on to discover nine facts that everyone should know.
9 Facts About Breast Cancer Everyone Should Know
While there is a lot of research and information about breast cancer all over the internet, it can get a bit overwhelming to parse through it all and determine what’s most important. Here are some important facts that can help you stay informed on breast cancer prevention, diagnoses, and treatment success rates.
1. There Are Many Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Most folks realize something’s wrong with their breast when they feel a lump, but there are many other symptoms and physical signs of breast cancer that you should watch out for. The most common symptoms include swelling or skin irritation on your breasts, pain in your breasts or nipples, redness, thickening of your nipple or breast skin, nipple discharge, and a lump in your underarm, not just a lump in your breast. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
2. Women Over 50 Are Most At Risk For Developing Breast Cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your chances of developing breast cancer increase as you age. Most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50. Additionally, women with dense breasts, a genetic mutation such as the BRCA gene mutation, and with a family history of breast cancer are more at risk than others.
3. Breast Cancer Is Very Common
According to breastcancer.org, as of 2021, breast cancer is the most common cancer. More than 12% of new cancer cases worldwide are breast cancer. It’s estimated that roughly 281,550 individuals will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2021, surpassing lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States.
4. Early Detection Saves Lives
There’s no question that detecting breast cancer early can allow for more treatment options and can drastically increase someone’s chance of survival. To detect breast cancer early, it’s important to go to regular screenings and conduct self-breast exams. Feel for any lumps, observe any visual changes to your breasts, and take initiative by speaking up at the doctor’s office if you believe something is wrong. With early detection, individuals have higher than a 93% survival rate within the first five years of being diagnosed.
5. Breast Size Does Not Impact The Likelihood Of Developing Breast Cancer
The size of your breasts doesn’t typically impact your chances of developing breast cancer, but dense breast tissue may put you at higher risk. While having dense breasts isn’t in itself a concern, it can be a little more difficult to detect cancer in a mammogram of dense breasts, which may mean that there’s a delay in diagnosis.
6. There's More Than One Way To Breast Cancer
Some types of breast cancer can be treated with surgical removal of the tumor or suspicious cells in question, while other types will require chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, or some combination of those treatments. After analyzing the cancerous cells, a medical team will advise the best course of action to take.
7. Men And Non-Binary People Can Get Breast Cancer, too
While it’s definitely more common for women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, it is not exclusively a women’s issue. Men can develop breast cancer as well, although it’s rare: Fewer than 1% of all diagnosed breast cancer is found in men. Non-binary folks can develop breast cancer as well, which makes breast self-exams and talks with a physician especially important.
8. Breast Cancer Has A 90%+ Survival Rate
The survival rate of cancer fluctuates depending on the stage of cancer when it’s diagnosed, where in the world someone is diagnosed and treated, and the success of treatment, among other factors. Typically, Americans diagnosed with breast cancer have a survival rate of 91% five years after diagnosis.
9. You Can Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Regular checkups, screenings, living a healthy lifestyle, and doing self breast exams are just a few ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Incorporating exercise, quitting smoking, and cutting back on drinking are just some of the healthy habits that can help decrease your risk.
Some folks may be genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer, calledprevivors. These individuals have a mutation of the BRCA gene that fights cancer cells, which increases the possibility that cancer may develop. If you’re a previvor, you may want to take extra precautions, such as additional screenings, and you may be a candidate for a mastectomy that removes your breast tissue to drastically reduce your risk.
What You Can Do To Support Someone Who Has Breast Cancer
When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, you may find yourself navigating a minefield of emotions. Not only is it hard for you to process how you’re feeling, but you may feel at a loss for words when it comes to supporting your loved one.
The best thing to do is show your support by showing that you care and expressing that you’re holding them in your thoughts. Consider bringing a practical gift, like a recovery robe from AnaOno, that they’ll get lots of use out of (and leave the flowers and balloons at the florist). You may want to write a letter sharing your love, support, and happy memories that your loved one can read when they’re ready to do so. Importantly, ask to help as well, and follow through if your loved one asks for assistance with childcare, cooking, or housework.
Get More Facts About Breast Cancer
Are you looking for more resources on breast cancer? Visit the website of the below organizations, which can help you get the right information about breast cancer prevention, screenings, and treatment options.
- Breastcancer.org: https://www.breastcancer.org/
- METAvivor: https://metavivor.org/
- Living Beyond Breast Cancer: https://www.lbbc.org/
- Breast Cancer Research Foundation: https://www.bcrf.org/