Vigilance can decrease chances of breast cancer

Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2005.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer among white and black women.

Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is a malignant tumor that grows from a cell in the breast. The exact cause is not known, but there are some risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of getting the disease.

These risk factors include gender, age-the chance of getting breast cancer increases as you get older, genetics/family history, personal history of breast cancer- a woman who has had breast cancer in one breast is more likely to get a new cancer in the other breast, and race. White women are more likely to get breast cancer, but black women are more likely to die from it.

A person’s lifestyle and habits can also increase their chances of getting the disease. Unhealthy lifestyles that will increase the risk factor of getting breast cancer are the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT,) alcohol, birth control pills and being overweight.

The ACS recommends breast-feeding, exercise, mammograms and x-ray of the breast, clinical breasts exams and breast self- exams (BSE) to reduce cancer risk.

BSE should be done on a regular basis to get to know how your breasts feel in order for you to easily notice changes.

Ann Hatcher, a registered nurse and assistant nurse manager of radiation and gynecology at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, agreed and said mammogram screening should begin at 40 years of age unless there is a family history of breast cancer, in which case mammograms should begin earlier. The age depends on physicians’ recommendations.

Hatcher also said that self-breast exams are great but you should also have a physician examine you.

Hatcher said if you are diagnosed, or someone close to you is, there are certain steps that should be followed to ensure the best recovery.

Hatcher said it starts with a mammogram, and judging from the results, a second mammogram or a Magnetic Image Reasoning Scan (MRI) will follow.

“At that point” said Hatcher “if you are diagnosed you can choose from radiation therapy, chemo therapy, a mastectomy or all of the above.”

“It all depends on the type of cells that are confirmed and the degree of the disease,” she said.

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