Guest Editorial: Remember to check your breasts beyond October

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Happy National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Throughout October, health organizations, sororities and fraternities, political groups, nonprofits, government agencies and businesses alike hosted pink-themed events, from panels to walks, brunches and fundraisers, to raise awareness on the importance of breast cancer awareness, self-check-ups and advocacy work surrounding the disease.

“This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let us all recommit to the work of ending cancer as we know it. May we honor those we have lost, offer strength to those who continue to live with breast cancer, and work to protect the health of future generations,” said President Joe Biden in a proclamation issued Sept. 29.

The president offered statistics, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness about breast cancer.

“Nearly 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and one in eight women in America will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetimes. We have made enormous progress in our decades-long fight against cancer — discovering new prevention and early-detection measures and exploring medicines and therapies to extend and save lives. Despite these advancements, a breast cancer diagnosis is not only frightening but also a doorway into a confusing world of appointments, procedures, and expenses,” said Biden.

Men can also get the disease, with around 2,300 new cases yearly, according to “Going Beyond the Pink.”

Further, according to the American Cancer Society, Black women are particularly affected by the disease, with the highest death rate from breast cancer and a higher chance of developing breast cancer before the age of 40 than white women.

With such data, it is important that all people know the importance of having real conversations about breast cancer awareness and ways people can be proactive in combating the disease.

Further, early detection is key in fighting breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, as reported by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early (in the localized stage), the five-year survival rate is 99%. The National Breast Cancer Foundation advocates that early detection includes: monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular clinical breast exams.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation says signs of breast cancer can be detected through self-exams. Some symptoms can include nipple tenderness, a lump in the breast or underarm, thickening in or near the breast or underarm, a change in the skin texture (which some describe as a texture similar to that of an orange peel) or an enlargement of the pores in the skin of the breast.

With Black women particularly affected by breast cancer, it’s especially key to have regular conversations about the disease, self-exams, and clinical examinations in African American households.

Breast cancer is something that should be discussed year-round, not just in October.

Reprinted from the Washington Informer

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