Most of us know October as the month of Halloween and pre-Thanksgiving. But in the women’s health community, October is the month of Breast Cancer Awareness. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the breast tissues. And there are various types of breast cancer. But in this blog, we’re going to get into how prevalent breast cancer is in the United States, racial disparities within breast cancer diagnosis, and suiting up as mythbusters today to debunk some common breast cancer myths.
Breast cancer is more common than you may think as it affects 1 in 8 women in the United States, with this type of cancer being the second most common cancer amongst women. In 2020 alone, an 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the United States., which is more than enough women to fill the Nationals Park in Washington D.C.to the brim. And if that isn’t jarring enough, on average, every 2 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Let’s talk disparities. Although black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a lower rate than white women, black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Also, black women are also more likely than white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, a type of breast cancer that is often aggressive and returns even after treatment. So far, there has been no luck finding why this is the case, and scientists are currently investigating better ways to treat it. Public health agencies within the United States are still working to ensure women are getting screened for breast cancer as recommended by their doctors, are informed about early detection, and are educated about reducing the risk factors that could increase their chances of breast cancer to reduce racial disparities in breast cancer.
Let’s do some breast cancer mythbusting!
When people are self-examining their breasts, a common myth is when finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.
The truth is, only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, “if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam. He or she may possibly order breast imaging studies to determine if this lump is of concern or not.”
Another common myth is that men can’t get breast cancer. Although males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. However, only less than 1% of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only 1 in1,000 men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer. Men are more likely than women (51% versus 36%) to be diagnosed with advanced (regional- or distant-stage) breast cancer, which likely reflects delayed detection because of decreased awareness. Due to the rarity of male breast cancer, there is much less known about the disease and how it develops in men. However, similar to women, male breast cancer risk also increases proportionately with age.
We at FemTech Focus hope that you will continue to look out for your breast health and the ones of the people you love. Early detection is just as important as reducing your risk factors. Make sure to routinely perform breast self-exams, establishing ongoing communication with your doctor, getting an annual clinical breast exam, and scheduling your routine mammograms. #PinkRibbon.