October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! The most important thing you can do to fight breast cancer is to catch it early. You can do this with regular mammograms and self-examinations. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares these tips for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
What Are the Early Signs of Breast Cancer?
Nurse Rose: Most people think of a lump in the breast as the only sign of breast cancer. This may be a possible warning sign, but it is not the only one. Other common signs include:
- Lumps inside the breast or underarm area
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple discharge or retraction (turning inward)
- Dimpling of the skin on the breast
What Treatment Options Are Available for Breast Cancer?
Nurse Rose: Breast cancer can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the type. Some patients may even receive more than one kind of treatment, including:
- Surgery – an operation to cut out the cancer tissue
- Chemotherapy – special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells
- Hormonal therapy – blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow
- Biological therapy – works with your immune system to help it fight cancer cells
- Radiation therapy – using high-energy, (similar to X-Rays) rays to kill the cancer cells
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
Nurse Rose: Although there are factors that are outside of your control, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk.
- Conduct monthly self-breast exams starting at age 20
- Get annual mammograms beginning at age 40
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke
- Exercise regularly
- Talk to your doctor about your risk factors.