Hawkeye POV: Women should check early and often for signs of breast cancer

ULM Hawkeye

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This month The Hawkeye wants to take the time to remind its readers of the dangers of breast cancer and what they can do to help prevent it. 

Every year in the United States there are more than a quarter of a million new cases of breast cancer reported. Nearly 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year.

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, breast cancer strikes more white women than any other group, but black women are more likely to die from the disease.

The foundation says early detection is key to a woman’s chance

of survival.

The website for the foundation offers many tools and resources for women with breast cancer or those who believe they may be at risk.

The website says young women make up 5 percent of reported cases. And men account for one in every 100 cases.

Doctors recommend all women do a self-examination to check for irregularities. The Surgeon General recommends women over 40 have a mammogram every one to two years.

 Women should contact their healthcare provider if they notice any swelling or lumps in their breasts. Though self-examinations are key to early detection, nothing can replace the skill and knowledge of your doctor. 

According to the UNC School of Medicine, “although mammograms are not generally recommended under age 40, about 29 percent of women between 30 and 40 report having one.” You might not be comfortable getting a mammogram any time soon, but just because it’s not recommended does not mean you’re in the clear.

Lifestyle also plays a key role in whether or not a woman will develop breast cancer. According to the Komen Foundation women who are overweight are shown to be at a greater risk.

Women who lead an active lifestyle tend to show lower risk factors for breast cancer. The foundation said regular exercise can decrease the risk.

For women with children, breastfeeding has been shown to offer protection against certain receptors that cause tumors. Other studies put out by the foundation show that women who breastfeed for one year significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Knowing your family’s medical history can also help in early detection. Women who come from a family with a high amount of cancer, though not necessarily breast cancer, should check themselves more often due to having a higher risk.

Though researchers aren’t exactly sure of all the genes that go into breast cancer development, they are certain that genetics is a factor, and genetic counseling is an option for many women.

Women should ask their doctor which type of screening is right for them. Those at a higher risk may want to get screened more often. 

The Hawkeye dedicated this issue to the victims of breast cancer by putting elements of the pink breast cancer ribbon on each color page

To learn more about breast cancer, you can visit the website for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.