Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Importance of Early Detection & Risk Factors

Now it is time to start sharing some "good to know" information for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Today is information on the importance of early detection and what are the risk factors for breast cancer.

This information can be found on various websites.  I got my information for this post from the American Cancer Society's website.  I hope that you will feel free to look up this information on your own, but if not, I am going to do my best to provide as much of it as I can this month. 

Hope you enjoy ~ I would love to hear your feed back, feel free to leave a comment.

The importance of finding breast cancer early

The goal of screening exams for early breast cancer detection is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. Early detection means using an approach that allows earlier diagnosis of breast cancer than otherwise might have occurred.

Breast cancers that are found because they are causing symptoms tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis (outlook) of a woman with this disease.

Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save many thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests. Following the American Cancer Society's guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer improves the chances that breast cancer can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated successfully.

Last Medical Review: 09/15/2010
Last Revised: 09/15/2010

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease, such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), bladder, kidney, and several other organs.

But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. Most women who have one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop the disease, while many women with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors (other than being a woman and growing older). Even when a woman with risk factors develops breast cancer, it is hard to know just how much these factors may have contributed to her cancer.

There are different kinds of risk factors. Some factors, like a person's age or race, can't be changed. Some are related to personal behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and diet. Still others are linked to cancer-causing factors in the environment. Some factors influence risk more than others, and your risk for breast cancer can change over time, due to factors such as aging or lifestyle changes.

Last Medical Review: 09/15/2010
Last Revised: 09/15/2010

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