October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Who decides these things?  I don’t know, but it any time is good to be aware of breast cancer.  This year there will be an estimated 182,460 newly diagnosed cases in women and 1,990 in men.  40,480 women will die along with 450 men.

Catching the disease early will significantly increase your risk of survival and cure.  How do you do this?  There has been some controversy, this year on performing self-breast exams.

A study showed that a lot of women were coming in with lumps that were not cancerous leading to excessive tests and surgery.  But the study examined women in another country who did not have assess to a lot of the non-invasive tests we have here in the U.S.  From a quick scan of some of the major cancer organizations, I cannot see any changes in their recommendations as a result of the study.  Talk to to your doctor.  If you decide to do monthly exam, JHMFD has a video to learn how to do a self-exam correctly in the video section of our website.

Non-controversial recommendations are periodic breast exams by your health care provider, and mammograms over 40 years old, earlier if you have risk factors such as a family history.  Newer, more comfortable and accurate screening tests are in the works. Men, if you have breast redness, swelling, lumps, or nipple discharge, see your health-care provider asap.

In the case of breast cancer, ignorance is not bliss.  Don’t neglect your tests.  People who catch breast cancer early can lead normal, cancer-free lives.  Be aware.

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