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Breast Cancer know-how for women under 40

  • 16 Oct 2018
  • Sublime Nursing
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In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is this quote floating around the internet. The said quote talks about how mammogramming your boobs is more important than instagramming them. While this couldn't be truer (and hilarious in equal parts), it has a certain significant message attached to it. 

For those who do not know, mammograms are a screening tool to detect breast cancer in women over 40. In women under 40, they tend to be less accurate on account of denser breast tissue. Statistically, breast cancer is not the norm in young women. If it happens though, it is more aggressive and less likely to respond to treatment. Having said that, a daily breast-check in the shower is all you need to pick up the initial symptoms.

The exact cause of breast cancer in women is unknown, but some are more predisposed to it based on certain 'risk factors'. A Hereditary Risk Factor for example, explains why women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer are more likely to develop it.  Personal Risk Factors on the other hand, may or may not be in your control. A growing age, giving birth after 35 or not at all, early menstrual periods, delayed menopause, radiation therapy to the chest, obesity, smoking & alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle are all contributors to the condition in their own way.

In the absence of traditional screening, it is for women under 40 that self-breast awareness becomes crucial. Experts recommend that the best time to do a monthly, manual examination of your breasts is a week after you get your periods. Begin by lying on your back and use small, circular motions to examine each breast. Check for lumps (in breasts and armpits), a change in shape or size, nipple discharge, redness and/or a nagging pain. Repeat the process by standing in front of the mirror with your arms by your side. If you notice anything peculiar, contact your gynecologist promptly who will then schedule you for a breast ultrasound.

The treatment for breast cancer at any age depends on the severity of the disease, the woman's overall health and personal preferences. Treatment options include surgery, breast removal, radiation and hormone therapy, each resulting in its own set of consequences. But the biggest challenge by far is acknowledging you are a victim as much as telling your friends and family about it. Treatments may also change the way you look and feel, so it's important to communicate with your loved ones and get all the support you need.

Breast cancer, like other forms of cancer may not be preventable. However, there cannot be enough emphasis on leading a healthy life in lowering its risk factors. Eat your fruits and vegetables, get enough exercise, breastfeed if possible, refrain from smoking & drinking and find time to de-stress; most importantly, just listen to your body. A breast cancer diagnosis is never welcome but if it caught early, the likelihood of conquering the disease is very high.