Breast cancer awareness is about so much more than a pink ribbon or buying pink cooking utensils or posting a Facebook status or a Tweet saying that you support breast cancer awareness with a slacktivist “game” that pretends to “raise awareness” by sending messages behind the scenes and applying sexual innuendo to harmless meanings and somehow associating them with breast cancer and you have to choose which phrases apply best to yourself. The most important part is keeping it secret from guys because, you know, they can’t get breast cancer at all or they don’t know anyone who could be affected by cancer. These phrases are anything from purses and where you put them around the house to bra colors to number of inches hinting at your partner’s penis size to insinuating a pregnancy in an awkward way.
All are equally ridiculous and none of them raise awareness about breast cancer nor do anything productive like advocate through knowledge and education. All these things do is make people feel as if they’ve done “something.”
Here’s Something from Cancer.gov:
Definition of breast cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2011:
New cases: 230,480 (female); 2,140 (male)
Deaths: 39,520 (female); 450 (male)
Learn how to do a monthly self-exam.
We all know that breast cancer is something we want to eradicate and need funding for researching treatments and cures. But do we all know what the signs are? Do we actually know ABOUT breast cancer? Do we know anything beyond the pink slogan that Komen works so hard to co-op and commercialize? Does all of that pink tell us anything except boobs are feminine and girlie and sexy?
Here’s another something from the CDC:
The breast is made up of three main parts: glands, ducts, and connective tissue. The glands produce milk. The ducts are passages that carry milk to the nipple. The connective tissue (which consists of fibrous and fatty tissue) connects and holds everything together.
What Is a Normal Breast?
No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age.
Tumors and Breast Cancer
Sometimes breast cells become abnormal. These abnormal cells grow, divide, and create new cells that the body does not need and that do not function normally. The extra cells form a mass called a tumor. Some tumors are “benign” or not cancer. These tumors usually stay in one spot in the breast and do not cause big health problems. Other tumors are “malignant” and are cancer. Breast cancer often starts out too small to be felt. As it grows, it can spread throughout the breast or to other parts of the body. This causes serious health problems and can cause death.
Common Kinds of Breast Cancer
There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast, like the ducts or the lobes.
Common kinds of breast cancer are—
- Ductal carcinoma.The most common kind of breast cancer. It begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast, also called the lining of the breast ducts.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The abnormal cancer cells are only in the lining of the milk ducts, and have not spread to other tissues in the breast.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma. The abnormal cancer cells break through the ducts and spread into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
- Lobular carcinoma.In this kind of breast cancer, the cancer cells begin in the lobes, or lobules, of the breast. Lobules are the glands that make milk.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). The cancer cells are found only in the breast lobules. Lobular carcinoma in situ, or LCIS, does not spread to other tissues.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
Another something is recognizing that men can get breast cancer too.
Male breast cancer is rare. It happens most often to men between the ages of 60 and 70. Risk factors for male breast cancer include exposure to radiation, a family history of breast cancer and having high estrogen levels, which can occur with diseases like cirrhosis or Klinefelter’s syndrome.
Symptoms of male breast cancer include lumps, changes to the nipple or breast skin, or discharge of fluid from the nipple. Treatment for male breast cancer is usually a mastectomy, which is surgery to remove the breast. Other treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy.
Another something, perhaps the Most Important Something, is recognizing the signs of breast cancer.
Early breast cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms. But as the tumor grows, it can change how the breast looks or feels. The common changes include:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast
- A nipple turned inward into the breast
- Discharge (fluid) from the nipple, especially if it’s bloody
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin at the center of the breast).
- The skin may have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange.
You should see your health care provider about any symptom that does not go away. Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Another health problem could cause them. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your health care provider so that the problems can be diagnosed and treated.
Here are some additional links that are something to check out.
Be an advocate and share whatever information you have. Be an advocate and get screened. Do self exams. Donate to cancer research. Donate hair to Locks of Love. Learn what your own risks are and how best to prevent or minimize your risks. We can all make a real difference.
- awareness: male breast cancer (donnapeach.com)
- I Did Not Cause My Cancer (blogher.com)
- Breast Cancer is Closer than You Think (cindyronzoni.com)
- Miss Nutritionist offers advice for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! (josephinepr.wordpress.com)