Be Your Own Breast Friend

10.03.2012, 16:32 CDT | Posted In: Health & Beauty

Be Your Own Breast Friend

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to educate and empower yourself about breast health. Although information on a variety of breast cancer subjects is readily available, many women are still diagnosed in late stages of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is currently the top cancer diagnosed in women worldwide, totaling 16% of all female cancers.1 Domestically, 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.1 It’s important to be aware of the risk factors associated with breast cancer and develop an early detection plan in order to increase the chance for successful treatment.2

Am I at Risk?

You’ve likely heard the slogans and taglines, seen or taken part in a breast cancer walk, and noticed the emergence of pink all around you during October. There are many things you can do to support breast health, but start with your own. The following factors can contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Family history—It is estimated that 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary.3 If you have one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer, your risk doubles. Two first-degree relatives? Your risk increases 3-fold.3
  • Age—About 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers is found in women younger than age 45, while about 2 of 3 cases are found in women age 55 or older.3
  • Weight—Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.4
  • Alcohol—Compared to nondrinkers, women who consume 2 to 5 alcoholic beverages daily are at 1½ times the risk of developing breast cancer.3

Where Do I Turn?

The 5-year survival rate when breast cancer is detected early (at the localized stage) is 98%.5 Be proactive about your health and take the necessary measures for effective early detection.

  • Breast self exams (BSE)—This step-by-step approach to early detection should be performed on a monthly basis (usually after a period) by women, beginning in their 20s. BSEs allow women to become comfortable with the look and feel of their breasts. For a step-by-step guide on how to perform a breast self exam, click here.
  • Clinical breast exams (CBE)—Women in their 20s and 30s should have a breast exam performed by a healthcare professional approximately every three years. CBEs offer women the opportunity to discuss changes in their breasts with their doctors, early detection testing, and any factors that may make them more likely to develop breast cancer.6
  • Mammograms—Women in their 40s should schedule a mammogram every year and should continue to be screened for as long as they are in good health.6

A good habit to get into with your early detection plan is to record personal exams, mammograms, and doctors’ appointments in a detailed file that you can refer to.

Show You Care, Be Aware

Because 30% of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer received their diagnosis after the cancer had spread beyond the localized stage,5 it’s important to take action and be proactive not only for your own health but also for the health of women around the world!

Our 2011 Obagi Ambassador and breast cancer survivor, Donna, understands the need to expand breast cancer awareness. Obagi made a charitable donation on her behalf to a nonprofit breast cancer foundation last year upon her selection as an official Obagi Ambassador.

To show your support or find out how you can help, visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation and learn more.

References: 1. Breast cancer: prevention and control. World Health Organization Web site. Accessed September 4, 2012.
2. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. World Health Organization Web site. Published October 2011. Accessed September 4, 2012.
3. What are the risk factors for breast cancer? American Cancer Society Web site. Updated September 6, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2012.
4. Can breast cancer be prevented? American Cancer Society Web site. Updated September 6, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2012.
5. Early detection plan. National Breast Cancer Foundation Web site. Accessed September 6, 2012.
6. Can breast cancer be found early? American Cancer Society Web site. Updated September 6, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2012.

Tags: cancer