Staying on Top of Breast Cancer
By Derrick Cruise
With the exception of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women—and while the number of women who develop the disease has decreased in the past decade, it’s still the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
Women of all ages can develop breast cancer—and while receiving mammograms and doing regular self-exams can save lives, it’s also important to know the basics of the disease. Knowing the risks, as well as how to survive and recover from the disease, can do more than keep you healthy—it can save your life.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Exercise and a healthy diet are part of staying fit, but they’re also two important elements of fighting breast cancer. Studies show that obesity can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer; estrogen can make certain breast cancers grow and because the level of estrogen in the body is elevated in overweight women, obesity can put women at risk. That means a regular exercise regimen is important to preventing a number of risk factors that lead to breast cancer.
But while eating a balanced diet does influence weight, it has no significant bearing on breast cancer development. However, eating healthy can greatly reduce your risk for other diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, another disease that kills thousands of women every year.
Choosing the right treatment
Still, some women are genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer—and in those cases, it’s impossible to prevent the disease. Choosing the right breast cancer treatment is essential to survival and recovery: talk to your specialist about treatment options, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Not all breast cancers will require surgery—but getting a second opinion can also help you decide if you’ll be able to recover from the treatment you choose with little side effects.
Modern medicine has saved millions of lives over the past few decades, and more women than ever are surviving breast cancer and leading full lives. But receiving education about the disease and having the right support network is critical. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, talk to your medical provider about support groups in your area. There are also phone hotlines, online message boards and forums for women who need someone to talk to or access to resources that aren’t currently in their area.
Breast cancer doesn’t just affect women: it affects their spouses and families, their friends, and their communities. Both men and women can contribute to the fight against breast cancer; learning the risks and the types of breast cancer, and volunteering time and resources to women recovering from the disease, can make a difference in the lives of women from all walks of life.
Derrick Cruise has been active in the breast cancer community since 2006. His main goal is to make sure women understand the importance of getting regular checkups, and knowing what options are right for them when they undergo breast cancer treatment .