Beyond just pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves, October marks another important month: Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dedicated to raising awareness about the impacts and causes of breast cancer, this month is all about recognizing the prevalence of breast cancer in the world, debunking common misconceptions about the disease, as well as identifying useful tools in preventing this devastating disease.
Unbeknownst to many Canadians, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, affecting thousands of women every year. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 78 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every single day, and 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop breast cancer within their lifetime. No matter your age, breast cancer can affect everyone, and these statistics only go to highlight the imperative of spreading awareness about the disease.
There are many complex factors at play in a diagnosis of breast cancer. One of the most important of these factors is genetics. Some individuals simply have different genetic mutations, which increase their risk of developing breast cancer. Others who have a family history of breast cancer can also have a higher risk, due to a genetic disposition. Hormones can also play a large role in risks of breast cancer, as estrogen and progesterone, present in females, can promote the growth of certain cancer cells. Other factors, such as age, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors can also impact one’s chances of developing cancer.
As young women, it is always beneficial to stay vigilant and proactive about potential risks of breast cancer, and learn effective screening and prevention tips to safeguard our bodies. There are many ways to detect early signs of breast cancer, from mammograms, clinical examination, to self examinations. For women aged 50 and older, regular mammograms are recommended, as the x-ray images can detect any abnormalities that are not physically visible. Clinical examinations from a professional can also help identify any potential tumors within the breast that could possibly lead to the development of breast cancer. For younger women aged below 30, self breast examinations are recommended. To perform these check-ups, one can press down on the breast region and feel for any lumps, knots, or abnormal changes in the area. Doing these check-ups regularly, ideally monthly, can help alert for any possibly malignant developments in the breast, and prevent diseases before they occur.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a key opportunity to educate your friends and family on the prevalence of breast cancer, and empower women across communities. This year, take the time to inform yourself and those around you, or dedicate a small donation to organizations in Canada such as the Canadian Cancer Society, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation or the Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Every small change counts, and it’s never too late to start!