Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Part 1)

October 2, 2015

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well as Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month (formerly known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month). The first half of this month this column will highlight Breast Cancer Awareness while the second half of the month will concentrate on Intimate Partner Violence. The final article will place needed attention on Teen Dating Violence.



Did you know each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die? Thus, it is important to keep this issue in the forefront. Continued awareness and education highlights the importance of attending breast screenings in detecting breast cancer as early as possible and increasing the chances of successfully managing and treating the disease. Let’s look at additional facts about breast cancer in the U.S.:

• 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

• Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

• Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.

• Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year. Risk/genetic factors Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged, but why or how that DNA becomes damaged is still unknown. It could be genetic or environmental, or in most cases, a combination of the two. But most patients will never know exactly what caused their cancer. However, there are certain established risk factors that are associated with breast cancer.

• Gender: Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.

• Age: Two out of 3 women with invasive cancer are diagnosed after age 55.

• Race: Breast cancer is diagnosed more often in Caucasian women than women of other races.

• Family history and genetic factors: If your mother, sister, father or child has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the future. Your risk increases if your relative was diagnosed before the age of 50.

• Personal health history: If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast in the future.

• Menstrual and reproductive history: Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can also increase your risk for breast cancer.

• Certain genome changes: Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase your risk for breast cancer. This is determined through a genetic test, which you may consider taking if you have a family history of breast cancer. Individuals with these gene mutations can pass the gene mutation onto their children.

• Dense breast tissue: Having dense breast tissue can increase your risk for breast cancer and make lumps harder to detect. Be sure to ask your physician if you have dense breasts and what the implications of having dense breasts are.


• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

• World Health Organization

• National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Next Week: Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Part 2)

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in this article, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your medical doctor or health care provider. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.