When I was a teenager, the risk of getting Breast Cancer was 1 in 11. This meant that 1 out of every 11 women you saw was going to get Breast Cancer during her life time. By the time I was in my late 20s the rate went to 1 in 8 and has remained steady since.
My grandmother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 86. The good news from this diagnosis was that her cancer was caught at an early stage. All she needed was surgery for her Cure. One of my mother’s first cousin died from recurrent Breast Cancer 5 years ago. The good news from this diagnosis was the fact that she was in her 50s and this did not increase the risk of cancer to her daughter and granddaughters.
If you investigated your family history I am sure you will find a few women with Breast Cancer in your family. This cancer touches women of all ethnic backgrounds around the world. We support Susan G. Komen because they are actively supporting research for a Cure as well as providing aid to underserved women. Underserved is another way of saying poor and or minorities. The rate of cancer increases with age (over 50), but unfortunately more minorities die from this cancer disproportionately.
As young women you need to be aware of your breast tissue. Your need to learn to do Self Breast Exams and when to do them. The best time to do your breast exam is 1 week after your period has ended. If you were to find something, you will then need to tell your parent/parents and go and see your Pediatrician. It is rare to get Breast Cancer in your teens and it is more likely for you to have a cyst or a benign solid mass. A physical exam alone is not enough to make this diagnosis and an ultrasound and if needed a biopsy needs to be done. Your first mammogram starts at age 40 and continues until age 75 or later depending on your risks.
There are women in our society that have a genetic mutation that makes them have a greater than 40% risk for getting Breast Cancer. Women with these mutations who develop cancer make up 5% of all the Breast Cancers that occur. Our number 1 risk factor for Breast Cancer is being a woman and thus most Breast Cancers occur in women at average risk for the cancer.
In the last 6 years I have diagnosed and unfortunately lost patients to Breast Cancer. My hope is that the advances in science can lead to a Cure. It would be wonderful if there was a vaccine or a pill that could prevent all women from developing Breast Cancer. Until that day we need to do our Self Breast Exams, get our mammograms and continue to support groups like Susan G. Komen. We will be Racing for the Cure on October 13 th and would like everyone to come and join us to make a difference.