It’s October…so you know what that means…by the time this month ends, you will hear more than you ever wanted to, about breast cancer. Though it may be a subject you are more than familiar with, there is always more to learn about the disease that is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women, next to skin cancer.
Getting caught up in the negative statistics of breast cancer is easy, but what about the good news? Is there any good news when it comes to breast cancer?
It’s true the statistics feel daunting but did you know, according to Breastcancer.org that the rate of death from breast cancer has been steadily decreasing since 1989? The greatest decreases are seen in women under the age of 50. They attribute these drops to the fact that it’s a disease we are good at talking about. All this breast cancer talk, as well as an entire month dedicated to the topic, has led to better screening, advanced treatment and more educated women.
Science has made great strides in the research of breast cancer. Genes have been identified that allow doctors to be more supportive in their care of us, but it also allows us as women, to be proactive in how we take care of ourselves and manage our health. The number one thing we can do as women, is be educated. No matter how well we know our healthcare provider or they know us, they rely on you to know your body and know when something is amiss. The identification of the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes help scientists determine which cancers are likely to advance and which ones are not. This is good news. Treatment can become more individualized.
Along these same lines, science is now embarking on targeted therapies, rather than the broad treatments we have all come to fear, whether we have experienced our own firsthand cancer or not! They are better at understanding tumors. Do they have estrogen receptors or is it an overproduction of HER2? The treatments differ significantly depending on the type of tumor. That isn’t something that existed even 10 years ago. Armed with this knowledge and targeted therapies, side effects can be managed better.
Here is some more good news…more than 90% of women with breast cancer are alive 5 years after their diagnosis. Breast cancer care is not just about chemotherapy or radiation. Today, a woman can be supported in any number of ways with nutrition counseling and therapies, exercise instruction, psychological care, stress management and don’t forget a community of strong women. Historically, women excel at banding together to see each other through these difficult moments in life.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness. It’s a great time to schedule your mammogram and be proactive. Continue with self exams and if you aren’t sure how to do this, let us teach you. The government posts cancer screening guidelines but what really matters is knowing your own body and establishing personal guidelines and that can only be done with your trusted healthcare provider at Madison Women’s Clinic. We hope to see you soon!