Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Carr and Carr Attorneys are advocates for our clients and all of Oklahoma to stay healthy, get healthy and know the steps for early detection. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month; finding or detecting breast cancer early gives you the best chance for successful treatments. Below are a few common breast symptoms to be aware of and five ways to reduce your breast cancer risk according to cancer.org.

A lump in your breast

A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Such lumps are often hard and painless, though some may be painful. Not all lumps are cancer, though. There are a number of benign breast conditions (like cysts) that can also cause lumps.

Still, it’s important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner it’s diagnosed the better.

Swelling in or around your breast, collarbone, or armpit

Breast swelling can be caused by inflammatory breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

Swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in those areas. The swelling may occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast, so if you have this symptom, be sure to see a doctor.

Skin thickening or redness

If the skin of your breast starts to feel thicker like an orange peel or gets red or scaly, have it checked right away. Often, these are caused by mastitis, a breast infection common among women who are breast feeding. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

If your symptoms don’t improve after a week, though, get checked again, because these symptoms can also be caused by inflammatory breast cancer. This form of breast cancer can look a lot like a breast infection, and because it grows quickly it’s important to diagnose it as soon as possible.

Breast warmth and itching

Like skin thickening and redness, breast warmth and itching may be symptoms of mastitis – or inflammatory breast cancer. If antibiotics don’t help, see your doctor again.

Nipple changes

Breast cancer can sometimes cause changes to how your nipple looks. If your nipple turns inward, or the skin on it thickens or gets red or scaly, get checked by a doctor right away. All of these can be symptoms of breast cancer.

Nipple discharge

A discharge (other than milk) from the nipple may be alarming, but in most cases it is caused by injury, infection, or a benign tumor (not cancer). Breast cancer is a possibility, though, especially if the fluid is bloody, so your doctor needs to check it out.

Pain

Although most breast cancers do not cause pain in the breast, some do. More often, women have breast pain or discomfort that is related to their menstrual cycle. This type of pain is most common in the week or so before their periods, and often goes away once menstruation begins.

Some other benign breast conditions, such as mastitis, may cause a more sudden pain. In these cases the pain is not related to the menstrual cycle. If you have breast pain that is severe or persists and is not related to the menstrual cycle, you should be checked by your doctor. You could have cancer or a benign condition that needs to be treated.

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but there are several things you can do that may lower your likelihood of getting it. Below are 5 ways to lower your risks according to cancer.org.

Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk.

This is especially true after menopause and for women who gain weight as adults. After menopause, most of your estrogen comes from fat tissue. Having more fat tissue can increase your chance of getting breast cancer by raising estrogen levels. Also, women who are overweight tend to have higher levels of insulin, another hormone. Higher insulin levels have also been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.

If you’re already at a healthy weight, stay there. If you’re carrying extra pounds, try to lose some. There’s some evidence that losing weight may lower breast cancer risk. Losing even a small amount of weight – for example, half a pound a week – can also have other health benefits and is a good place to start. 

Exercise regularly

Many studies have found that exercise is a breast-healthy habit. The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Moderate-intensity activities are at the level of a brisk walk that makes you breathe hard. And don’t cram it all into a single workout – spread it out over the week.

Limit time spent sitting

Evidence is growing that sitting time increases the likelihood of developing cancer, especially for women. In an American Cancer Society study, women who spent 6 hours or more each a day sitting when not working had a 10% greater risk for invasive breast cancer compared with women who sat less than 3 hours a day, and an increased risk for other cancer types as well.

Limit alcohol

Research has shown that women who have 2 to 3 alcohol drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk compared to women who don’t drink at all. Women who have 1 drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Excessive drinking increases the risk of other cancer types, too.

The American Cancer Society recommends women have no more than 1 alcohol drink in a single day. A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was used more often in the past to help control night sweats, hot flashes, and other symptoms of menopause. But researchers now know that postmenopausal women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin may be more likely to develop breast cancer. Breast cancer risk appears to return to normal within 5 years after stopping the combination of hormones.

Carr & Carr hopes our clients and neighbors have a long and healthy life. We are in the community to help promote health and well-being. If you do find yourself or someone you know in a situation has been a victim of medical negligence, call us at 877-392-4875 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. Our law firm maintains offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but our attorneys can also meet you at your home, hospital room or other location convenient for you.

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