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WFMP October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hello, it is Cheryl Dechaine, RN here to write a little bit about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thank you all for tuning into our posts and watching our videos so far. We look forward to keeping you entertained and spreading more awareness throughout the Winter season.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. We here at WFMP are encouraging everyone to learn more about it and get involved in some way.

Great progress has been made, and more & more women are surviving breast cancer. However, it is still the most common cause of cancer and the second leading cause of death for Canadian women.

When looking over the statistics to write this blog, I was sombered by the raw numbers. 1 in 8 Canadian women will hear the words "you have breast cancer" at some point in their lives. Sadly, 1 in 33 will die from it. The majority of us will eventually be impacted by this devastating diagnosis in some way - whether it is ourselves,our mother, our sister,our daughter, our friend or our co-worker who receives it.

Early Detection is Key

Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have NO symptoms. This is why regular breast screening is so important. Experts agree that regular mammograms provide the best screening for breast cancer.

In Alberta, for women of average risk for breast cancer, the clinical practice guidelines recommend that women ages 50-74 years have a mammogram complete based on your personal health history. It is possible that you should start regular screening at an earlier age or that they should be done yearly. This is something that you should discuss with your family doctor.

Although mammograms are not perfect tests, by getting screened regularly your cancer can be found earlier when it may be smaller and easier to treat. It can help save your life.

If I get regular mammograms do I still need to do breast self exams?

The answer is yes. The most common symptom of breast cancer is the development of a lump in your breast. This is why it is very important for women to complete monthly self exams so they know how their breasts normally look & feel. This way, you can tell if there are any changes. Being "breast aware" can help with early diagnosis.

Breast self exams do not replace the need for a mammogram which can detect a lump that is far too small to feel yet.

OK, I understand regular screening is important, is there anything else I can do to avoid this disease?

There are some things you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer. These include the following:

  • limit the amount of alcohol you drink, to less than 1 drink/day

  • have a healthy body weight

  • be physically active on a regular basis

  • discuss benefits/risks of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor

  • be a non-smoker & avoid secondhand smoke

  • learn about protective factors like breastfeeding

There are common misconceptions out there that certain things like deodorant/anti-perspirant, underwire bras and silicone breast implants are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. There is currently no scientific evidence to support this.

Does breast cancer affect women only?

No, it can affect men also but the incidence is much lower. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. Researchers estimate that 240 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed yearly. Just like for women, it is important for men to know what is normal for their breasts and report any changes to their doctor.

How can I help?

Please check out the following link to find out how you can help, there are many ways to get involved. By working together we can work towards a future where the life changing words "You have breast cancer" no longer invoke fear.

Thank you for reading!

Cheryl Dechaine, RN.

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