The Realities of Early Detection

May 19, 2020
The Realities of Early Detection
Early detection is one of the most important life-saving factors when wanting to prevent and fight breast cancer. If you can start on the journey early in your life, it might save and protect that life you've built and created. 

Early detection is one of the most important life-saving factors when wanting to prevent and fight breast cancer. If you can start on the journey early in your life, it might save and protect that life you've built and created. 

We've made it to May, friends! We are so thankful to be here with you today and thankful that there is a little more positive news in the world these days. There is still so much that we need to be cautious about, but as breast cancer warriors, that is not a new idea. We've shared some important facts on the realities of what it's like to live with breast cancer while raising children, personal stories of those fighting breast cancer, and how to better your quality of life while living through diagnosis and treatment. One topic that we are extremely passionate about is early detection. We spend a lot of time educating on the topic, spreading awareness on how to begin early detection, and helping those who could benefit from early detection. In this blog, we wanted to share some of the realities of why early detection is so important, tips on what you should be looking out for, some tips on how to stay as healthy as possible, and what early detection could mean for you. 

We know that breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in women and one of the most fatal. At the end of the day, catching it as soon as possible is key. As of now, there isn't a cure for breast cancer, making early detection more important every day. The purpose of early detection is to find and identify any breast abnormalities as soon as possible. If breast cancer or it's beginning stages are found and caught sooner, it can be treated more efficiently. There are more treatment options available to you and there is a higher rate of survival if caught sooner. 

We've talked about the reality that breast cancer can appear in women under the age of 40 in some of our most recent blogs. It does happen more often than the general public cares to admit. Mammograms are not efficient enough for women under the age of 40, as the breast tissue is still to firm for the mammogram to penetrate through and provide a clear reading of what's happening inside the breast itself. This is when self-breast examinations come into play and become incredibly important. By the time you've reached early adulthood, you should be doing a monthly breast exam, regardless of your family's history of breast cancer. It never hurts to be safe. Self-breast examinations are the best tool for discovering early stages and signs of breast cancer, and any findings should always be reported to your doctor. 

  • Maintaining a Watchful Eye 

With it being such a deadly disease, it's scary to know that many symptoms of breast cancer can very easily go unnoticed. Thankfully, if you're proactive and know what signs you should be looking for in self-breast exams and in the health of your body overall, you can help improve your chance of early detection. 

  1. You should be giving yourself monthly breast exams. 
  2. If there is any change or abnormality in your breast that you've discovered, they need to be reported to your doctor right away! 
  3. If you find a lump in your breast, please alert your doctor. But remember, not all lumps mean that you have cancer. Also, remember to look and feel for lumps and tenderness on the side of your breast and in your armpit. 
  4. If the texture of your skin or the size of your pours changes on your breast.
  5. If your nipples become extremely tender. 
  6. If the size and shape of your breast changes out of the blue with no rhyme or reason, either growing larger or shrinking.
  7. If your breast has a milky discharge and you're not breastfeeding. 
  8. If your nipples have turned inward or have become inverted and there is a dimpling anywhere on the breast. 
  9. There are more signs you need to be looking for and aware of, but these are some of the most important warning signs you need to be looking for now. 
  • Starting Now

Fighting against your body, genetics, and forces that are out of our control is a daily battle women with breast cancer or who are high risk are very aware of. There are some things you can be doing now to lower your chances of developing breast cancer and to give your body a fighting chance that it doesn't appear. Take these to heart, along with your monthly breast exams, and be good to your body. 

  1. Maintain a healthy weight consistently and in a healthy manner. 
  2. Don't begin to smoke or stop if you already are. 
  3. Limit your alcohol intake. 
  4. Exercise often, and maintain a healthy exercise plan throughout your life. 
  5. Eat a nutritious and balanced diet to maintain your active lifestyle and healthy weight. 
  6. Breastfeed your children.
  7. Hormone therapy treatments.
  8. Genetic counseling and testing for those at high-risk.
  • The Truth In Now

Early detection means something different to everyone. For some, it becomes a healthy habit that they do once a month. For others, it's because they know the risk of getting breast cancer is already incredibly high. If your sister, mother, or daughter has had breast cancer, your risk of also getting it doubles. If two of these close relatives have been diagnosed, then your risk is five times higher than normal. When these numbers begin to add up, it becomes more than just a monthly breast exam. You will need to pay closer attention to your breast's health both at home and with more frequent visits to your doctor. 

  • If you come from a high-risk family, sometimes it can be linked to having an abnormal gene like the BRCA1 or BRAC2 gene. Getting tested for these genes becomes very crucial when coming from a high-risk family. There is hormonal therapy available to help prevent these abnormal genes from turning into cancer and to lower the risk of developing cancer. There are four different hormone therapy medicines that have been developed that have proven to reduce the risk of cancer if you do test positive for these abnormal genes. But, they do not reduce the risk of hormone receptor negative breast cancer. 
  • Protective surgery could also be in your future if your risk is extremely high. This choice is one that needs serious consideration, as it is a form of irreversible risk reduction. This form of surgery, known as prophylactic surgery, removes one or both healthy breasts or ovaries to reduce the risk of breast cancer. This surgery can reduce a woman from developing breast cancer by over 90%. Women with a history of breast cancer in their families or those who have tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRAC2 gene who have their uterus removed before menopause can reduce their risk by 50%. 
  • If you are at high risk and have decided to move forward with hormone therapy treatments genetic counseling, or prophylactic surgery, this will become a part of your everyday life. You will need to implement healthy life changes to maintain your health and to begin the best steps to keep you healthy and strong during your fight for prevention. 

Breast cancer is a risk for everyone. The path you take will just be a little different depending on who you are, what your body has decided to do, and what your family history is. But know that no one is alone on this path. You might need to deal with these realities a little sooner than later, it might become a part of your medical appoints and gynecologist visits every year, but it will keep you healthier longer. Be kind to your body and follow the necessary steps to preserve your life. Stay strong, Lowcountry! We are in this fight and all the fight the world has currently given us, together. Today is another day that we have to live to the fullest.