The importance of breast cancer awareness

Self-examinations could save your life!

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) dedicates the month of October to breast cancer awareness. Many initiatives are done throughout the month to raise funds for breast cancer research and support for individuals affected by the disease. Donations made to the National Breast Cancer Foundation during the month of October will help provide mammograms to those in need, as many people around the world cannot afford an annual mammogram.

Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast change and no longer behave normally. Breast cancer often starts either in cells that line the ducts (tubes that carry milk) or lobules (the groups of gland that make milk). Women typically have more breast tissue than men and therefore are more prone to developing breast cancer than their male counterparts.

According to the CCS, it is estimated that one in eight Canadian women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime, and that one in 31 Canadian women will die from the disease. It is especially important to know what the signs and symptoms of breast cancer are. Symptoms can include a lump in the armpit or breast and changes in the shape or size of the breast.

Women younger than 35 years of age are prone to developing a more aggressive, higher-grade tumour. The CSS also recommends that women aged 50 to 69 years old get a mammogram every 2 years. The statistics alone are a testament to how many people are being affected by breast cancer. It is important to listen to your body and to advocate for your health.

The Breast Cancer Foundation encourages regular breast self-exams as a way to detect breast cancer. Checking on a regular basis and on the same day of each month can allow you to detect if there are any abnormalities. Most importantly, the Breast Cancer Foundation urges you not to panic if you think you feel a lump. Most people will have lumps in their breasts, and they often turn out to be benign or non-cancerous. Tell your doctor if something stands out as different or persists.

Emilie Comfort
Emilie Comfort is a Contributor to the Argosy, as well as the Mount Allison health intern for the 2018-19 Academic year.