In celebration of women's health, October has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Thankfully, there is a steady stream of new information and advancements in breast cancer research. The slogans and pamphlets encouraging women to have routine physicals and mammograms, and to conduct monthly self-exams, have become a vital part of helping women manage and fight this disease.
Whether you're looking for a few creative options to throw your support to a local breast cancer campaign, or to learn about some of the latest research and medical advances, this empowering knowledge is sure to help you and your loved ones stay informed.
Why should you perform self-exams if you're under 40? Many do not realize that this year alone more than 11,000 women ages 15-40 will be diagnosed with this disease. With one in seven American women at risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, it is never too early to establish good breast health practices. Young women's cancers are generally more aggressive, making early detection extremely important.
Because mammograms are not recommended for most women until age 40, younger women are often diagnosed late. "This can possibly lower the chance of survival," notes Dr Cheryl Perkins, Komen Foundation senior clinical advisor. Health care providers caution it is vitally important for all women to become familiar with how their breasts look and feel through monthly breast self examinations beginning no later than age 20.
Many breast cancer survivors credit their partners with early detection. Share the responsibility and enlist your partner to conduct monthly breast exams. "If either of you notice a change in your breasts, contact your health care provider for further evaluation immediately," says Dr Kornmehl.
"The results from this study indicate that treatment of liver metastases from breast cancer can be accomplished safely and effectively with microspheres," says Dr Douglas Coldwell, an interventional radiologist in Dallas.
Oncologists and researchers are also using a new blood test to quickly target better treatments for women living with advanced breast cancer. CellSearch captures, identifies and counts circulating tumor cells in blood, making it a faster and more accurate test than imaging scans. This is the first FDA-approved test to identify and count cancer cells that have detached from a solid tumor and enter the bloodstream, and is widely available in the United States.
"We need about 23,000 more women to sign up to participate in this important study," says Sister Study spokesperson Beth Weaver. The 10-year project, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, takes a detailed look through a series of questionnaires and samples at how genes and the environment may influence breast cancer risk.
Another new study is providing more hope. According to cancer prevention specialists at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center, taking 1,000 IUs of vitamin D daily appears to lower the risk of developing certain cancers, including colon, breast, and ovarian cancer, by up to 50 percent. Registered Dietician Carroll Reider, MS notes that "reaching the recommended intake levels through a healthy diet rich in vitamins and sunlight are the best 'D-fense' against breast cancer."
By providing support and information, the Young Survival Coalition brings to light how important it is for women of all ages to understand this disease and know that breast cancer patients not only survive, but thrive. In addition, the YSC serves as a point of contact and source of support for young women affected by the disease.
Panera Bread is also helping in the fight by offering a specially-created pink ribbon-shaped bagel in all of its nearly 1,000 bakery/cafes during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During the entire month of October, Panera will donate a portion of the proceeds from each Pink Ribbon Bagel sold to a variety of breast cancer causes, including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization.
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and the author alone. They do not reflect the opinions of SheKnows, LLC or any of its affiliates and they have not been reviewed by an expert in a related field or any member of the SheKnows editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. Content and other information presented on the Site are not a substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on SheKnows. SheKnows does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.