Your Breast Cancer Check!

Do you still carry out a breast cancer check  or do you feel that now you are 60+ you're out of danger?

It was a big shock to me when I learned that the odds of us getting breast cancer increase as we get older not decrease as I thought.

Here are the figures.

Age 20-29: 1 in 2,000
Age 30-39: 1 in 229
Age 40-49: 1 in 68
Age 50-59: 1 in 37
Age 60-69: 1 in 26
Ever: 1 in 8

{Source: American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts & Figures, 2005-2006.}

In 2010, nearly 1.5 million people were told “you have breast cancer”

I guess most of us will either have a family member or friend who we know who has had breast cancer.

I lost one friend when she was in her late 30's the mother of 3 children when unfortunately she developed secondary cancer which was terminal.

I've also got a friend who had breast cancer some 12 years ago in her 50's who was treated successfully and is thankfully enjoying her life to the full.

Three year's ago one of my neighbour's was diagnosed with breast cancer just after her husband died and had to have a masectomy, she was 89 at the time. She found her lump by doing her own breast cancer check.   She will be celebrating her 93rd birthday soon.

I've always counted myself as being very lucky that I haven't had breast cancer when my Sister has had it twice. Once 20+ years ago and then a  re-occurence in her remaining breast a couple of years ago.

Thankfully this was a re-occurrence and not a secondary and she caught it early by doing regular breast cancer checks. 

My Sister's breast cancer was identified as one that seems to require estrogen to grow a female hormone which she has too much of.   She
now takes tamoxifen which blocks the actions of estrogen. 

Tamoxifen is used to treat some types of breast cancer in men and women who have certain kinds of cancer's that require estrogen to grow.

So a quick recap that's four people in my immediate circle of friends, one lost her fight but thankfully the other three have recovered and
hopefully will remain clear. 

What about you - how many people do you know who've had breast cancer?

Why am I telling you this? 

It's not to depress you or to be morbid but to help raise awareness that as we grow older it is doubly important that we regularly  do a breast cancer check.  The easiest is while we are showering or bathing.

Generally this is not a young persons disease.  There are less younger people than older that develop breast cancer.  Look at the numbers again.

Regular Self Examination Breast Cancer Checks are still the best.

Everyone is different, some women suffer from lumpy breasts particularly around menstration  that's why it's important you do your own breast
camcer check.

Only you know what is normal for you and you are the best person to identify quite quickly when something is not right.  If you find something
you're worried about go to your GP immediately.

Don't worry about wasting their time better that than to present yourself when it's too late for them to help you.

Why you should go for your Mammogram checks

In the U.K. and many other countries once a woman reaches the age of 50, she will be invited to take part in a breast screening programme.This means having a mammogram every three years up to the age of 70.

Because the breast screening programme is a rolling one which invites women from GP practices in your area in turn, not every woman will receive an invitation as soon as she is 50. However, she will always receive her first invitation before her 53rd birthday.

When you get that invitation don't hesitate go for it.  If your ill or can't make the appointment for some reason ring the number and make one you can make.

You can have mammmograms before 50 if you are in a high risk category.  Your GP would be able to arrange for that for you.

Yes it's slightly uncomfortable for a few seconds as each breast is ex-rayed but not as uncomfortable as dealing with breast cancer.

The aim of screening by mammography is to pick up cancer while it is still small before it has a chance to spread.

If you have a family history of breast cancer or you simply wish to carry on with the screening after the age of 70 then you can request the
breast cancer checks continue.

You have the right to be screened every three years if you ask. All you need to do is phone or write to your local breast screening unit to make an appointment or visit the screening van when it is in your area.  I personally will carry on with the screening as long as they'll have me.

Mammograms are a good way of identifying abnormalities in the breast but they don't always show whether those abnormalities are benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Further tests are sometimes necessary.

If you're called back following a mammogram don't panic it may be
that they simply need a clearer picture, even if they want to do a biopsy it quite often turns out to be benign.  My Daughter has had two lumps removed from under her arm which were not cancerous.

Even if you have your mammograms they are only every three years.  A lot can happen in three years so it is still important to do your own breast cancer checks  regularly.

A Breast Cancer Diagnosis and the Treatment sounds frightening!

No-one wants to hear the words "you've got breast cancer" but I've been told that once you get over the initial shock you just want to get on with the treatment as soon as possible.

Everyone's treatment is different.  Some people manage to carry on working with just a few days off when they have their chemothereapy.   Some people lose their hair and some don't.

My Sister opted to have "a cold cap treatment" which freezes the hair folicles so that there is less damage. She felt she was going to be more upset about losing her hair than being sick with the treatment.

She had her long hair cut short, and although her hair went a little thin and lost it's healthy bounce and shine for a short time she didn't lose it.

When the treatment was over and her hair started to thicken up it all came back curly.  She'd always had straight hair before so that was a bit novel.  Twelve months on and it went back to being straight.   I think she was little disappointed really. 

Your Support Network and a Healthy Diet!

It's been proven that people who have a good support network to encourage and sustain them through the treatment will have a more positive attitude and their prognosis is usually better. 

As well as your family try and have one close friend who can be your buddy that you can pour your heart out to.  Someone who can lift your spirits when you're having a bad day and make you laugh.

It's also important to follow a healthy diet.   There are certain foods that are good at boosting your immune system to fight off cancer.

Cancer Fighting Foods

Consuming non-starchy vegetables, allium vegetables, garlic, fruits and milk may also be beneficial, as well as curry powder, avocado, ginger,
carrots and rosemary.

Tea green or black, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, flaxseed, grapes, soy, tomatoes and whole grains may lower your risk for cancer as well, according to Stanford University.

Cancer Fighting Nutrients

Foods containing fibre, folate, carotenoids, beta carotene, lycopene, vitamin D, vitamin C and selenium may decrease the risk for certain types of cancers.

Taking calcium supplements, alpha-tocopherol supplements and selenium supplements also possibly lower the risk for getting some types of cancers, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.

For more information on breast cancer check out this link below.

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