Breast Cancer Month Pink Ribbons

Grow Pink: All You Need to Know About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the United States, and it’s the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women. Here’s what you need to know so you can identify the symptoms and reduce your risks.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Female Doctor Showing Bone Scan to Patient

It all starts when abnormal breast cells grow into a tumor. Once a mass is detected through a mammogram, a test called a biopsy is performed to tell if the mass is cancerous or benign (not cancerous).

If the mass is benign, you’re out of the danger zone. If the cells are cancerous, they can spread to other parts of the body. Your doctors will help you make the best decisions for your treatment so you can start as soon as possible.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Mother Hugging Her Daughter

Your lifestyle, along with many other factors, can increase your risk of breast cancer:

  • Getting older
  • Not having children, or having your first child later in life
  • Starting your first menstrual period at an early age
  • Beginning menopause at a late age
  • Personal history of breast cancer or certain benign breast diseases
  • Having close family relatives who have had breast cancer
  • Being overweight, particularly after menopause
  • Using hormone replacement therapy for a long time
  • Using oral contraceptives
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a genetic condition, such as certain mutations in your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Having been treated with radiation therapy to the breast or chest

What Are the Symptoms?

Woman With Pink Ribbons on Her Arms Crossed Over Her Chest

In the early stages, the tumor may be too small to feel and does not cause any symptoms.

As it grows, you may experience some of these symptoms:

  • A new lump in the breast or a lump that has changed
  • A change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple or breast that doesn’t go away
  • Swollen, red, or flaky skin on the breast
  • Nipple becomes tender or turns inward
  • Nipple leaks blood or non-milk fluiid

Talk to your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

When and How to Get Tested

Woman Getting a Mammogram

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), most women should start routine screenings for breast cancer at the age of 50. The screening is done with a mammogram, which takes X-ray images of the breast. It is the best and most reliable way to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before symptoms occur.

If your mammogram comes back abnormal or your doctor says that more tests are needed, it’s not always bad news. Your doctor can request additional tests for more insight.

Catching it early is important – treatment is most helpful in the beginning stages. There is an estimated 27% survival rate if breast cancer is caught in the late stages. On the other hand, if cancer is caught in early stages, women have 99% survival rate. So, get tested regularly to give yourself the best chance to stay healthy!

Take Action

Woman with Smart Watch

Just like any other illness, you can help minimize your risk for breast cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

  • Get tested today: schedule your mammogram with us
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink water regularly
  • Eat fresh and nutritious foods
  • Keep stress levels as low as possible

At AltaMed, we want to ensure that our patients have the proper care and education to take charge of their health. For the month of October, we will be offering free AltaMed gift bags to women who complete their mammograms at one of our locations. To learn more or schedule a mammogram today, please call (888) 499-9303.

Grow Pink this October and all year long!

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Breast Cancer Month

4 Ways to Support a Loved One with Breast Cancer

We want to do everything we can to be there for loved ones, especially during a challenging time like battling breast cancer. They’ll need emotional support while experiencing possible side effects from treatment along with feelings of hopelessness, anger, and fear throughout this process.

The good news is that they have you to help them during this time. Here are 4 ways you can support them through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery:

1. Listen

Lady With Breast Cancer Being Supported

Your loved one may be overwhelmed with emotions. This is their diagnosis and their journey – what you can do is provide a safe space so they can talk freely about it.

They may not always feel comfortable enough to share their feelings and may avoid the topic. “Listen” to their body language and behavior: they may be asking for more help or some space. Either way, let them know they are not alone.

2. Help Them Feel Good

Two Girls Enjoying Spa

Reassure your loved one they are worthy of a good time. Take them out for a manicure, go for a soothing massage, dine at their favorite restaurant, go to a concert, or join a dance class if they’re up for it. You can even stay indoors and have a cooking party, host a spa day at home, or watch a comedy.

Make it an open-ended invite, so they can pick the best time for them. Help them feel normal while you encourage them to maintain a positive outlook.

3. Be a Helping Hand

Women Holding Hands

Step on up! Your loved one will probably appreciate a little help with their day-to-day duties. Offer to take care of the common errands on their to-do list like buying groceries, helping clean their house, or picking up their prescriptions.

Even during the best of times, taking care of a family can be a lot of work! Offer to help with their children: helping out with homework or taking them to their sports practices.

It’s hard for people to accept help from others, especially when it comes to taking care of their family. Let them know they don’t have to face this alone and its okay to accept help. That’s what friends are for!

4. Gather a Support Team

Teens Hugging Eachother

A team full of love and support is the ultimate gift. Build the greatest support team of family, friends, and even coworkers! Everyone can work together to help make meals, take turns visiting, or drive them to appointments.

Learn more about breast cancer to understand a little bit more about what your friend or loved one is going through. You have the power to make a difference. Let them know they are loved and appreciated just by being themselves.

Cancer Survivor

Early Detection: Your Secret Weapon Against Cancer

This year, about 1.7 million people in the U.S. will find out they have cancer. But the good news is that cancer screenings and the right treatment will help nine out of 10 of them survive breast, cervical and colorectal cancer.

Here’s what you need to know about how health screenings can find cancer early.

One in every eight women will get breast cancer. Women 50 to 74 years old should get a breast exam, called a mammogram, every two years. A regular exam can help detect tumors and other signs of the disease that are hard to find.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S. Men and women between 50 and 75 years of age have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. Getting a colonoscopy every 10 years is the best way to find and treat it. You also can use an at-home FIT kit stool test, but it should be done every year.

Cervical cancer is best treated if it’s found early. If you’re a woman 21 to 64 years old, you should get a Pap screen, which tests for cervical cancer. During that exam, you can get tested for the HPV virus, which also can cause the disease.

  • You should be screened for HPV every three years if you’re between 21 and 29 years of age or if you don’t get tested for HPV during your Pap exam.
  • If you’re over 30 years of age, you should get an HPV screening and a Pap exam every five years.

Call us at (888) 499-9303 to find out which cancer screenings you need.

Grow Pink: All You Need to Know About Breast Cancer