In the 26 years since October was declared “Breast Awareness Month,” we’ve made some advances in research and treatment. But, sadly, the disease continues to take a toll on women.
According to CBS News, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (after non-melanoma skin cancer). In 2006, 191,410 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,820 women died, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is some good news. “There has been a decrease in mortality over the last 40 years,” says Dr. Deborah Axelrod, director of clinical breast cancer programs and services at New York University Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “We have made cancer a chronic disease. I am optimistic.”
There’s also encouraging news for pregnant women with breast cancer.
Recently, researchers discovered that pregnant women who were treated for breast cancer had a better rate of survival than non-pregnant women receiving treatment for the disease, ScienceDaily reports. It had long been assumed that the opposite was true.
So how do you reduce your risk of getting breast cancer? Obviously, there’s a huge genetic factor, but lifestyle does play a role. Experts say that limiting alcohol, exercising regularly and controlling your weight might help reduce the risk.
Regular mammograms can help with early detection. Also, be on the lookout for warning signs, which include a new lump lump in the breast or underarm; nipple discharge other than breast milk; irritation of breast skin; and pain in any area of the breast.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are lots of fundraising events around the country: Here’s a short list.
In addition to raising money to find a cure, the best way you can “celebrate” this month is by taking care of yourself and getting a mammogram if you’re overdue.