Breast Cancer Awareness
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and more so every year, we see our communities covered in pink ribbons, shirts, symbolism and support. We are inundated with ways to support the cause, and it is important to remember why we as a community come together in support of the people who fight this disease.
What is Breast Cancer?
Well, on its face, breast cancer is a disease where malignant cells (cancer) grow in the breast tissues. It affects mostly women, but men are not immune to breast cancer. A common sign is a lump felt in the breast, however cancer can be present without a lump. This is why mammograms are so vital to early detection as they are able to see cancer before it can be felt or before symptoms develop.
There are different types of breast cancer – some are very rare while others are more common. Ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive carcinomas are more common; phyllodes tumors and angiosarcoma are less so. Invasive cancers are when the cancer cells have broken free of the lobule where they began and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body.
A non-invasive cancer stays within the milk ducts or lobules in the breast. They do not invade normal tissues within or grow outside of the breast. In situ means "in the same" place, and is also a term used to refer to a non-invasive cancer.
What are the Signs of Breast Cancer?
We mentioned earlier that a lump may or may not be present. So while many people associate a lump with cancer, it's important to remember a lump may not be there and you have to pay attention to other symptoms. Those can include:
- Discharge from the nipple
- Nipple inversion or retraction
- Redness or swelling
- Changes in lymph nodes
- Changes to the skin texture of the breast
Any of these signs should be reported to your doctor right away.
Facts about Breast Cancer
- 1 in 8 women in American will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
- It is estimated that 268,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2019.
- Nearly 42,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year.
- Men are born with breast tissue and therefore can develop breast cancer, although it is rare. About 2,700 new cases of breast cancer in men will develop this year.
- Approximately 500 men will die from breast cancer in 2019.
- A woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes.
Breast Cancer in the Elderly
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation reports that breast cancer is a disease of aging. The median age is 62 years old, and about 25% of women with breast cancer are 75 years or older. Estimates show that as the population ages, the cases of breast cancer will rise, too. By 2030, most of the cases will be women ages 70-84.
Cancer treatments in the elderly population can be more devastating than those in other age demographics. This is because older patients tend to have weaker immune systems and have a greater risk of side effects from the treatments. Many seniors also take multiple medications for other chronic conditions that can interact or cause additional side effects when paired with cancer treatment.
Evergreen Senior Living
Evergreen Senior Living communities throughout Illinois are here to provide resources and support for all our residents and their families. If you have questions about services or support available, please visit our website.