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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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October 6, 2021 Read Time - 4 minutes

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose is to help increase awareness of breast cancer and help with early detection. Breast cancer is the second-most common type of cancer in women (although men can get breast cancer, also).

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021, we’re going to discuss the symptoms, causes, different stages, and different kinds of breast cancer. Then, we’ll talk more specifically about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and how you can get involved.

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Breast Cancer Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. However, there are other symptoms, including:

  • Dimpling of the breast skin
  • Change in the shape, size, or appearance of a breast
  • Newly inverted nipple
  • A thickened area that feels different from surrounding tissue
  • Peeling, crusting, scaling, or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
  • Pitting or redness on the skin of the breast (like an orange peel)

Different Kinds of Breast Cancer

“Breast cancer” isn’t one specific type of cancer. Rather, it’s any number of cancer types that can occur in breast tissue. The different kinds of breast cancer include:

  • Angiosarcoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  • Paget’s disease of the breast
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Male breast cancer
  • Recurrent breast cancer

Causes of Breast Cancer

While there are some factors that increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer, few specific causes have been identified. There are genetic, lifestyle, hormonal, and environmental factors that may cause breast cancer.

One known cause of breast cancer is a genetic factor. Around 5 to 10 of breast cancers are inherited through the family via two genes. These genes are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2).

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

There are many things that may increase a person’s chance of developing breast cancer. Some of those risk factors include:

  • Being female
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Radiation exposure
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Increasing age
  • Never having been pregnant
  • Having your first child after 30
  • History of breast conditions
  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy
  • Starting your period before age 12
  • Beginning menopause at an older age

Different Stages of Breast Cancer

There are 5 different stages of breast cancer. They range from stage 0, which is noninvasive, to stage IV, which has spread to other parts of the body.  

After a breast cancer diagnosis, many tests will be done to determine your stage. Your breast cancer stage may affect what types of treatment you need.

Breast Cancer Treatment

There are many different types of treatments for breast cancer. Treatment varies depending on type and stage. The most common treatments include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy drugs
  • Immunotherapy
  • Supportive (palliative) care

There are a wide variety of surgeries that may be performed, including:

  • Lumpectomy – Removing cancer from the breast
  • Mastectomy – Removing the entirety of the breast
  • Axillary lymph node dissection – Removing additional lymph nodes
  • Sentinel node biopsy – Removing and testing a few lymph nodes

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Charities

There are a wide variety of breast cancer awareness month charities that you may choose to support. A few of the most common breast cancer charities include:

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Living Beyond Breast Cancer
National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Breast Cancer Research Foundation
National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) Breastcancer.org
Young Survival Coalition (YSC) The Pink Fund

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Runs, Walks, and Other Events

October is the time to run or walk for breast cancer awareness. There are lots of events around the country to choose from. Here are just a few:

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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How to Get Involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month

There are lots of ways you can get involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A few ideas are to:

  • Volunteer your time
  • Share your breast cancer survivor story
  • Donate your money
  • Fundraise money
  • Buy pink ribbon products (if you can verify proceeds go to breast cancer charities)
  • Be a corporate sponsor

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Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Mayo Clinic. Breast Cancer. Accessed on October 6, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352470

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Accessed on October 6, 2021 at https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month

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