I always advocate self-care as the first step in preventing and treating health challenges. When it comes to breast cancer and health, the importance of self-care is a message I can't share often enough.
It is great to see pink ribbons everywhere in October during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! If I had my wish, every pink ribbon would carry an additional important message for women.
Every year, more than 1.2 million people are told they have breast cancer. Very rarely, even men will develop this disease.
Breast cancer is second only to heart disease as the leading killer of adult aged women in America. Thanks to recent advancements in medical science, being diagnosed with breast cancer doesn't have to be the death sentence it once was. It is now possible to detect and get breast cancer treatment done at an early stage.
You can reduce the risk of breast cancer with a few simple lifestyle changes.
A growing body of research is showing that women really can make a difference in their breast health through diet, exercise, and weight management.
These simple steps can help optimize your body's hormonal balance and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, and provide additional health, anti-aging, and disease-prevention benefits. We need to emphasize that everyone should be focusing on what we can control not what we can't.
The best way for premenopausal and postmenopausal women to know if their bodies have an imbalance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone is to do a saliva test.
We can change our habits: reduce alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
We can manage our weight and exercise daily. Studies also show that maintaining a healthy, average weight is just as important in favorably influencing the estrogen/progesterone ratio. Regular exercise is equally important. On the other hand, obesity, high insulin levels, alcohol intake, smoking, oral contraceptives, hormones from meat and meat products, pesticides, and herbicides can swing this ratio in the wrong direction.
We can eat a balanced diet.Choosing Eat organic to avoid pesticides, herbicides, and estrogens in meat and dairy products. Include one to three servings of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage in your diet each day. Studies show that Indole 3 Carbinol the active ingredient helps balance estrogen levels.
We can do BSE's - breast self exams becoming more familiar with our own body.
Signs, Symptoms and Self Examination for Breast Lumps
The first symptom, or subjective sign, of breast cancer is typically a lump that feels different than the surrounding breast tissue. Lumps found in lymph nodes located in the armpits and or collarbone can also indicate breast cancer. Indications of breast cancer other than a lump may include changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling, nipple inversion, or spontaneous single-nipple discharge.
A Mammography (plural mammographies) is the process of using low dose X-rays to examine the breast. The objective of having a mammography is the early detection of breast cancer through detection of masses and/or microcalcifications.
Mammography is still the modality of choice for screening of early breast cancer, since it is relatively fast, reasonably accurate. Mammography has been estimated to reduce breast cancer-related mortality by 20-30%. Annual mammography of women older than age 40 is recommended.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been shown to detect cancers not visible on mammograms, but has long been regarded to have disadvantages. For example, although it is 27 - 36% more sensitive, it is less specific than mammography.
How to perform BSE (Breast Self Examination)
Stand in front of a mirror with top exposed.
Place hands on hips.
Look for signs of dimpling, swelling, soreness, or redness in all parts of your breasts in the mirror.
Repeat with arms raised above your head.
While still standing, palpate your breasts with your fingers, feeling for lumps. Try to use a larger area of your fingers rather than prodding. Feel both for the area just beneath the skin and for the tissue deeper within. Go over the entire breast while examining. One method is to divide the breast into quadrants and palpate each quadrant carefully. Also examine the "axillary tail" of each breast that extends toward the axilla (armpit).
Repeat palpation while lying down.
Check the nipples and the area just beneath them. Gently squeeze each nipple to check for any discharge.
For premenopausal women, BSE is best done at the same stage of their period every month to minimize changes due to the menstrual cycle. The recommended time is just after the end of the last period when the breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. Older, menopausal women should do BSE once a month, perhaps on the first or last day of every month.
Breast Cancer Treatments
A prognosis is the medical team's "best guess" in how cancer will affect a patient. There are many prognostic factors associated with breast cancer: staging, tumour size and location, grade, whether disease is systemic (has metastasized, or traveled to other parts of the body), recurrence of the disease, and age of patient.
Breast cancer treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is. TNM Staging is commonly used worldwide to judge what treatment is necessary. Judging the tumor, or tumors, the nodes and if it has transferred to a different part of the body, also known as metastases.
Once these items have been evaluated, the doctor will decide on a course of treatment. The two main types of cancer are high grade and low grade. High-grade cancer is when there is a large risk of the cancer coming back even after surgery. In this case, chemotherapy will be prescribed once the patient has healed from surgery. Some cancer specialists may opt out of surgery if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body beyond the breast. Since it is still in one area, chemotherapy may be the first course of treatment, which may be combined with radiotherapy.
The earlier you find the cancer, the easier it will be to treat and the more options you will have. The early stage is defined when the cancer has not spread to other places in the body outside of the breast. Depending on how far the cancer has gone, there are several types of surgical options open for breast cancer treatment.
The most common type of surgery for breast cancer treatment is called conservative surgery. This is when the surgeon removes the diseased tissue from the breast, being careful not to take too much healthy tissue. While he is removing the cancer, a small amount of healthy tissue is removed as well. This is then sent to the lab for evaluation. If the lab reports that it is 'clear' or 'healthy', the surgeon knows he got all the cancer.
Care and Treatment for Post Breast Cancer Surgery
Hormone therapy is one of the post-surgery options you have. When the tumor is determined to be sensitive to estrogen, this is the common treatment. The higher the tumors estrogen receptor level, the more benefits will come from hormone therapy.
Another option for post surgery breast cancer treatment is chemotherapy. Depending on the size and how aggressive the cancer is, this may be used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor.
Chemotherapy is the most commonly used breast cancer treatment. This treatment uses drugs to destroy any cancer cells it finds. These are called anti-cancer drugs. Some chemotherapy drugs are given on their own, some are offered in combination chemotherapy doses. There are over fifty drugs used when giving chemotherapy treatments. The type of treatment received depends, again, on how far the caner has spread and where in the body it was first found.
When receiving chemotherapy, it is given in short doses, followed by periods of rest. Chemotherapy is very hard on your body and can make the patient very sick. Recovery periods are essential to the overall health of the patent. While the chemotherapy kills the cancer cells, it will leave the patient weak. Resting periods give non-cancerous cells the chance to recover.
While chemotherapy and surgery are the main ways to treat breast cancer, there are various treatments available. Research is always your best tool so you know your options when it comes to treatments and surgery. Cancer treatments are getting more successful all the time. If one type of breast cancer treatment doesn't work for you, another may. Don't give up hope! Summary:
Cancer treatments are getting more advanced all the time. Breast cancer is second only to heart disease as the leading killer of adult aged women, with 1.2 million new cases each year.
Moving on after Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Breast cancer is a life-threatening disease and some very good work is being done to raise awareness and explore preventative measures. Unfortunately, there is still a downside.
This is the fact that these two words "breast cancer" strike fear into the hearts of most women. We all know that it is these dreaded words that sets the alarm bells ringing. The psychological aspect of this means that when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer her stress levels skyrocket, putting an extra load on the body when she can cope with it the least.
It is of course her attitude towards these words that could be the greatest influence in her recovery.
Having survived breast cancer myself, I feel that some of the healing process is in part how you view the disease itself. As anyone who's read any of my previous articles will know, I did make considerable lifestyle changes to facilitate recovery. I'm also convinced that a big part of the process was down to the attitude I adopted towards cancer.
I had great faith in my surgeon and after the operation when he told me he had removed the cancer I believed him; totally. However, I also understood that the surgeon had done his part, now it was down to me to make sure the cancer didn't come back.
During the recuperation period there is plenty of time to think. It was during this time, that I was able to work out what I think was the cause of my breast cancer. It is a good time to find a strategy for post-breast cancer lifestyle. I had several challenges on a personal level; self-confidence being one of the issues. So I bought several books on the subject that were a real help in getting me back on track.
I've never liked the word remission, because it always seems to me that when someone says they are in remission, it is as if they expect the cancer to come back. The Law of attraction states that you will attract what you think about the most. If you spend your time expecting the cancer to come back, the odds are pretty good that it will. Of course I have absolutely no medical qualifications, and I don't profess to know the answers, I can only say what has worked for me.
I've always believed that stress caused my breast cancer, and part of the changes I've made to ensure the cancer didn't return was to eliminate as much stress from my life as I could.
For my part, I felt the best thing was to move on as soon as possible. So after a few mammograms and checkups that put me in the clear, I cut all ties with the breast cancer episode and got on with my life. I don't think about it very often, and I'm inclined to treat it as just another surgical procedure. It was a necessary procedure such as my appendectomy, but by not giving it too much credence, it means my breast cancer remains low on my list of things to think about.
Overcoming breast cancer is not easy, but advances in medical science help surgeons work miracles. Then it's down to the individual to decide what part their attitude can play in effecting a lasting cure.