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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Lone Star Family Health Breast Cancer Awareness Month Dr Abraham Profile

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, observed every October, is a global initiative dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer and promoting early detection and treatment. Since the early 1980s, this annual campaign has grown in significance, mobilizing individuals, organizations, and communities worldwide to combat this prevalent and often life-threatening disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, contributing to approximately 25% of all cancer cases. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Early detection plays a pivotal role in improving breast cancer outcomes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends breast self-awareness, which means knowing your individual normal breasts so that if there is any change, you can inform your provider. Healthcare professionals can conduct clinical breast examinations to check for breast lumps, changes in breast size or shape, and skin abnormalities. Mammograms are the primary tool for breast cancer screening and diagnosis. They use low-dose X-rays to capture images of breast tissue, identifying abnormal growths or masses. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for breast cancer every two years in women of average risk between the ages of 50 to 74 years. ACOG recommends screening mammography starting at age 40 and annually thereafter until at least 75. Ultrasound imaging can further investigate suspicious findings from mammograms, helping to differentiate between benign and malignant lesions. When a suspicious mass or abnormality is detected, a biopsy is performed to confirm the presence of cancer.

The most common symptom is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or underarm area. Unexplained changes in breast size, shape, skin texture, or nipple inversion can indicate breast cancer. Spontaneous nipple discharge, especially if it's bloody, may be a symptom of breast cancer. Although rare, breast pain can be associated with breast cancer, especially in advanced stages. However, breast cancer is not one of those conditions that you will necessarily always have symptoms.

Women are at significantly higher risk than men for breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in women over 50. A family history of breast cancer, especially in first-degree relatives, can increase an individual's risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and other genes can substantially raise the risk of breast cancer. Long-term use of certain hormone replacement therapies can increase the risk of breast cancer. Women with higher risk profiles may need more frequent or specialized screening.

Treatment options depend on the type of breast cancer and can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. The stage at diagnosis is a crucial predictor of prognosis. The type of breast cancer, its size, grade, and receptor status (hormone or HER2) influence prognosis. A patient's overall health, age, and response to treatment impact their prognosis. Overall, staying healthy is crucial. Getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, following a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and alcohol can all help reduce the risk for many cancers and conditions, not just breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has evolved into a global movement that not only educates people about the disease but also empowers them to take proactive steps in their healthcare journey. Through increased awareness, early detection, patient empowerment, and fundraising efforts, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has contributed significantly to the fight against breast cancer. As we continue to observe this important month, it is crucial to remember that breast cancer awareness and support should extend beyond October, serving as a year-round commitment to improving lives and advancing research to find a cure. As researchers continue to explore new therapies and treatment approaches, the outlook for breast cancer patients continues to improve, offering hope to those affected by this challenging condition.

Abraham 2 (1)-1Dr. Abraham is a resident physician who sees patients of all ages and provides obstetrical services at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, Grangerland, and Huntsville, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community.