Breast Cancer: A Crash Course

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As you are probably already aware, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.  This month more attention and more visible shows of support can be seen throughout the country in an effort to raise awareness about this life threatening disease.  But aside from the media focus and pink invasion, how much do you really know about breast cancer?  What it is, how it works, how you get it, and why it’s important to get screened?  This month we’re all reminded of how dangerous this cancer is but sometimes we miss the details.  So here’s a crash course on how breast cancer happens, who is susceptible, and how best to survive it.

The cells in our body are supposed to divide, grow and then die. This is meant to happen daily and it’s supposed to happen in a systematic way.  When normal cell growth and division continues without stopping and the cells grow out of control, this is when a ‘genetic error’ or ‘mutation’ has occurred.  Quite simply, there are 2 kinds of genetic errors – the ones you are born with and the ones that happen spontaneously.  By now, you may have heard of BRCA1 and BRCA2 – they are the two tumor suppressor genes that are carried by everyone.  If either or both of these genes are inherited as mutations, then the risk of developing breast and other cancers is much higher because these mutated genes will not be able to stop the division and growth of cells like they are supposed to do.  Genetic testing is available to determine the makeup of these genes.  One recent high profile case that involved genetic testing was that of Angelina Jolie who opted for a double mastectomy after genetic testing showed she had inherited errors in her BRCA1 gene.  According to the National Cancer Institute, a double mastectomy in a case such as hers substantially reduces the chance of terminal breast cancer by more than 50%. Most importantly, it reduces the potential spread of the cancer to other parts of the body.

A common misunderstanding about breast cancer is the idea that if there is no history of it in one’s family, there is less to worry about.  While it is true that a family history is the first indicator of potential high risk, inherited mutations account for just 5-10% of all breast cancer cases in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.  Spontaneous mutations, which occur in your body throughout your lifetime, make up the rest – which means that 90-95% of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. are cases of spontaneous mutation.

So what does that mean for you?  It means you have to be vigilant and it means you have to take control.  Preventive care is best: be sure to maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight.  Exercise.  Limit alcohol intake and be sure to talk to your family about your family health history.  Make sure you get regularly screened.  Mammograms are the best screening test for breast cancer, and have shown to be able to catch the erratic growth of cells as early as 3 years before they are felt.  The Susan G. Komen foundation recommends women start their mammogram screenings at the age of 40 and get re-tested every year.  One of the most important reasons for early mammogram testing is to provide a reference point for future tests.  Mammograms work best when they can be compared to earlier ones, and the sooner you get a healthy one the better chance you have of catching even the smallest of changes.

While breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, it also has the most survivors than any other type of cancer.  According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, there are almost three million breast cancer survivors in the United States today.  This is a sheer testament to the advances in treatment and early detection that are available now.  But early detection is key: the earlier the detection of any changes, the greater the likelihood of full recovery.  That’s why it’s better to go every year and better to start going earlier.  Just as with anything in life, the sooner you make positive choices and positive changes, the easier those changes are to implement and the less invasive and difficult they feel.

The same can be said for our SilcSkin products.  You do not need to wait until the crow’s feet around your eyes or the wrinkles around your mouth have deepened ‘enough’ to finally warrant some attention.  While our products are designed to help you with exactly those issues, we don’t think you need to wait to see a wrinkle deepen before you treat it.  Apply our décolleté pads each night even if you ‘only have a few’ wrinkles. Apply our facial pads each night to those small fine lines around your eyes.  You’ll wake up to a more fresh and youthful appearance.  Preventive care is the foundation to happier and healthier living.  Order your SilcSkin pads and make that appointment for your mammogram now.  Don’t put it off.  Take control.  Take care of yourself, starting right now!