Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Guide to Symptoms and Treatment
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to show support for anyone affected by breast cancer and to raise awareness of the work being done to aid treatment.
Here in Canada, it’s believed that around 26,900 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. It accounts for approximately 25 percent of new cancer cases, and 13 percent of all cancer-related deaths among Canadian women.
It’s crucial that every woman knows the warning signs of breast cancer, and understands what treatment options are available. We’ll cover both, and more, below.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
The most common warning signs of breast cancer include:
One or more of these signs may indicate the presence of breast cancer. But they could be related to other conditions and do not necessarily mean that a woman has developed cancer.
Remember: there is no ‘typical’ breast. What has always been normal for you might be considerably different to another woman’s standard of normal. Your breasts may start to look and/or feel slightly different due to a number of factors, e.g. changes to your weight (gaining or losing), giving birth, and even taking specific types of medication.
Breast lumps are often caused by non-cancerous conditions, e.g. fibrocystic breast disease. This is a noncancerous condition that causes the breasts to become lumpy. However, even though fibrocystic breast disease isn’t harmful, it can still cause some discomfort.
If you start to notice one or more of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately. It can be terrifying to speak to a medical professional about such a life-changing condition. But it’s best to make an appointment as soon as you can, even if just to set your mind at ease.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Research has shown that a number of combined factors can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. These include:
The following are also risk factors, but can be changed:
Breast Cancer Treatments
A number of treatment options are available to women affected by breast cancer. Specific treatments may be recommended depending on the stage to which the cancer has developed, and more than one type of treatment could be offered.
Breast cancer surgery is an invasive treatment in which the cancerous tissue will be removed.
While surgical breast cancer treatment may involve removing just part of the tissue, a mastectomy is full removal of the breast. Women who believe they may be at higher risk of cancer (due to their family history) may elect to undergo a mastectomy before any symptoms develop.
Hormonal therapy involves preventing the cancerous cells from receiving the hormones required to grow.
This is one of the most well-known treatment options for breast cancer. This revolves around administering medicines designed to reduce and ultimately kill cancer cells in the body.
Chemotherapy may be administered intravenously through a drip, in pill form, or even both in some cases.
High-energy rays (similar to those used in X-rays) are applied to the breast(s), with an aim to destroy the cancer cells.
This treatment option is designed to work with the immune system to combat the cancer, or to control the side effects from alternative treatments for cancer.
Life after breast cancer treatment
All breast cancer treatments can have a traumatic effect on the body, but may help to destroy the cancer cells successfully.
For women who have undergone a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy, adjusting to the breasts’ new form can be extremely difficult. Breast reconstruction is one option, in which a cosmetic surgeon utilizes an artificial implant and/or tissue from another area of the body to create new breasts with natural results.
Alternatively, some women may choose to wear a mastectomy bra. These feature fabric pockets within the cups, designed to hold a prosthesis securely in place. For women who have undergone a mastectomy, Astra Medi Spa offers custom mastectomy bra fittings in conjunction with Amoena.
To learn more about a custom bra fitting for yourself or a loved one, please contact our team.
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