October is a month of vibrant fall colors, warm pumpkin spice lattes, and cozy sweaters. But it’s also a time to wear pink ribbons with pride and spread the word about an issue that affects millions worldwide: breast cancer. Recognized globally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October serves as a crucial period to raise awareness about this disease, its risk factors, and the importance of early detection.
Knowledge truly is power when it comes to breast cancer. The more you understand the signs and symptoms, the better equipped you will be to recognize any changes in your own body or the lives of the people around you. From understanding the importance of regular screenings to knowing what changes to look out for in your body, this post aims to arm you with the vital information you need this month and beyond.
How Many Women Does Breast Cancer Effect?
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the most common cancer among American women.
How Many Women Are Diagnosed Each Year?
In the US, more than 260,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and about 42,000 will die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How Can Early Detection Help?
Through early detection, the five-year relative survival rate for localized cancer that hasn’t spread is 90%, according to the American Cancer Society.
Who Does Breast Cancer Impact the Most in the US?
Many fatalities occur among families with low to middle income, where many women with breast cancer are frequently diagnosed in advanced stages. This is primarily attributed to insufficient knowledge about early detection and potential obstacles in accessing necessary health services.
How Often Should You Self-Exam?
Many breast cancer symptoms are hard to notice without a professional screening, but professionals recommend a monthly breast self-exam to identify any changes or lumps. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are first detected by women who feel a lump.
What Are the Key Signs and Symptoms?
- A change in how the breast or nipple feels
- A change in the breast or nipple appearance
- Any type of nipple discharge—particularly clear discharge or bloody discharge
- Skin irritation, such as redness, thickening or dimpling of the skin
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit
Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer; any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be looked at by a healthcare professional.
The American Cancer Society’s Recommendations for Early Detection of Breast Cancer for Women of Average Risk Include:
Ages 40-44: Women should have the option to begin screening with a mammogram every year
Ages 45-54: Women should get a mammogram every year.
Women Ages 55 and Older:
Women Ages 55 and Older: Switch to a mammogram every other year or continue annual mammograms.
What Are the Early Warning Signs of Metastatic Breast Cancer?
Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV) is breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body, most often the liver, brain, bones, or lungs.
What Is the Most Common Symptom of Metastatic Breast Cancer?
According to breastcancer.org, the most common symptom of breast cancer that has spread to the bones is a sudden new pain. Breast cancer can spread to any bone but most often spreads to the ribs, spine, pelvis, or long bones in the arms and legs.
What About It Spreading to the Lungs?
Breast cancer generally doesn’t manifest many symptoms when it spreads to the lungs. However, if a lung metastasis does produce discernible symptoms, they may include discomfort or pain in the lung, difficulty breathing, and a persistent cough.
How About Spreading to the Brain?
Symptoms of breast cancer that has spread to the brain can include headache, changes in speech or vision, and memory problems, among others.
What About Spreading to the Liver?
When breast cancer spreads to the liver, it often will not cause many noticeable symptoms. If a liver metastasis does cause symptoms, it can include pain or discomfort in the midsection, fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite, and fever.
How Can One Lower Her Risk of Breast Cancer?
Although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer entirely, the National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends that women do certain things to lower the risk.
Exercise Is Key
Stay physically active. Exercising regularly has been linked with lowering breast cancer risk.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Staying at a healthy weight is very important, especially following menopause. Weight gain as an adult is linked with a higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.
Do Not Smoke or Vape
Smoking has shown a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women.
Eat Those Veggies
Many studies have shown that a diet high in vegetables and fruit and low in red meat can lower the risk of breast cancer.
Drink in Moderation
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol has been linked with an increased risk, so abstain from drinking alcohol or drink in moderation.
New Breakthroughs and Treatments
New treatments for breast cancer are being developed every day. While there is no miracle cure, specialists can provide the necessary care.
Further Information and Support
For further details on early detection, risk factors, treatment, recovery, or complimentary patient support, you can contact the American Cancer Society anytime by dialing 800-227-2345 or visiting their website at cancer.org.
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Even More About Breast Cancer Awareness Month
For more information on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please visit nationalbreastcenter.org.
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s remember that awareness and early detection are our most potent weapons in this fight. Each of us has a role to play, whether supporting a loved one, scheduling regular screenings, or simply spreading the word about this crucial cause. Let’s continue to wear our pink ribbons with pride, not just in October but all year round. Together, we can make a difference, one step at a time. Let’s keep the conversation going, spreading awareness and fighting for a world free of breast cancer.
For even more about cancer, keep reading. We’ve got 30 celebrities who have battled the disease and won.
Learn More About the Celebrities Who Have Fought Cancer and Won.
Sharon Osbourne was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002 and underwent chemotherapy to treat it. Though she successfully recovered, the Osbournes alum chose to have a double mastectomy in 2012 to lower her chances of getting cancer again.
“I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with that shadow hanging over me,” Osbourne told Rolling Stone at the time. “It’s not ‘pity me,’ it’s a decision I made that got rid of this weight that I was carrying around.”
Edie Falco discovered she had stage I breast cancer in 2003 while working on The Sopranos. She went into remission the following year.
Falco shared with Health that she initially didn’t want to disclose her diagnosis, not even to her Sopranos colleagues. “It was very important for me to keep my diagnosis under the radar, even from the cast and crew of The Sopranos, because well-meaning people would have driven me crazy asking, ‘How are you feeling?’” she told the outlet in 2011. “I would have wanted to say, ‘I’m scared, I don’t feel so good, and my hair is falling out.’”
10 years after Stanley Tucci lost his first wife, Kate Spath-Tucci to breast cancer, he was diagnosed with a large tumor on his tongue. The Hunger Games star opened up about his secret cancer battle three years after the fact during an interview with Vera magazine.
“The kids were great, but it was hard for them,” he told Vera in 2021 of his difficult treatment journey. “I had a feeding tube for six months. I could barely make it to the twins’ high school graduation.”
Kathy Griffin revealed that she had lung cancer in August of 2021. She is one of the latest celebrities to join the ranks of cancer survivors. “I’ve got to tell you guys something. I have cancer. I’m about to go into surgery to have half of my left lung removed. Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked!” Griffin wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “The doctors are very optimistic as it is stage one and contained to my left lung. Hopefully, no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing. I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less.”
In February 2022, she shared another happy update. “6-month lung cancer scan is CLEAN!!! No more #cancer,” she shared via Twitter in February 2022 alongside a video of her swimming naked. “And yes, I’m skinny dipping in the pool while shaking my boobs and butt. SO WHAT?”
“Just saw my oncologists and I’m cancer-free,” Hoppus shared via Instagram that September. “Thank you, God and universe and family and friends and everyone who sent support and kindness and love.”
Nearly one year after Jeff Bridges announced his lymphoma diagnosis, he revealed that he was in remission, and he was excited to go back to work.
“Lots has gone down since my last installment,” Bridges shared via a handwritten note on his website in September 2021. “My cancer is in remission — the 9″ x 12″ mass has shrunk down to the size of a marble.”
“I’ve been fortunate because my celebrity has brought me enough financial security to receive excellent medical attention. No one wants an NBA legend dying on their watch. Imagine the Yelp reviews,” he joked in the piece.
Ashley Park from Emily in Paris was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just 15 years old, but she underwent chemotherapy to battle it. Speaking on the experience with Cosmopolitan in October 2020, she talked about not letting the potential long-term side effects of chemotherapy deter her.
“I didn’t want to know that I might be infertile or that my heart might stop working or any of that stuff because once you say it, you’re thinking about it,” she shared. “Even though my body beat the disease, if I let it change anything, it’s won.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, and she successfully beat the illness nearly one year later. “I was to-my-bones terrified [of having cancer],” she told The New Yorker in 2018. “But I didn’t let myself — except for a couple of moments — go to a really dark place. I didn’t allow it.”
Wanda Sykes revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2011 that she underwent a double mastectomy after finding out she was in the early stages of breast cancer. “I have a lot of breast cancer history on my mother’s side of the family. I had both breasts removed,” she said. “Now, I have zero chance of having breast cancer.”
Hugh Jackman was treated for basal cell carcinoma in 2013 and 2015. After his second round with the disease, he took to Twitter and Instagram to caution his followers about doing preventive care to avoid getting skin cancer. “Another basal cell carcinoma,” he wrote at the time. “Thanks to frequent checks & amazing doctors, all’s well. Looks worse [with] the dressing on [than] off! WEAR SUNSCREEN.” Noted!
Fran Drescher learned that she had uterine cancer in 2000. To resolve the issue, she underwent surgery as well as radiation. Two years later, Drescher documented her experience with the disease in a book titled Cancer Schmancer.
Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, but she entered remission the following year. She battled cancer again in 2013 and 2017. In an interview with “Today’s” Hoda Kotb in 2021, the singer talked about living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
“I have my days, I have my pains,” Newton-John said at the time. “But the cannabis that my husband grows for me has been such a huge part of my healing, and so I’m a really lucky person.”
Len Goodman, a Dancing With the Stars judge, confirmed through the Melanoma Fund in August 2020 that he underwent skin cancer removal from his face.
“Len Goodman has asked us to keep ‘spreading the word’ re. sun protection for golf,” the nonprofit wrote via Facebook. “The ex-BBC Strictly Come Dancing judge was playing a few rounds with our ambassador Paul Way at The Grove – a Sun Protection Accredited club, and revealed he has just had skin cancer removed. He wanted us to use this image to inspire others to take the issue seriously!”
Julie Walters, who is most likely familiar to you via Harry Potter, announced in February 2020 that she beat stage III bowel cancer. She told the BBC that she “couldn’t believe” the diagnosis in 2018, but chemotherapy turned out to be “fine.”
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives star, revealed to her Instagram followers in September 2018, that she had battled cancer and was in the process of growing back her hair. Three days later, she explained that she had beat anal cancer and was happy to finally let the world know about her journey.
“After posting a picture of myself here and uttering the words #cancer and #hairloss, I felt liberated, deliriously free, and completely me,” she wrote. “How or why this simple act gave me such a powerful lift I did not question, but I thanked God or whatever gave me the internal push to move forward and expose myself.”
Erin Andrews was diagnosed with cervical cancer at her annual Ob-Gyn checkup in September of 2016. After undergoing two surgeries in October and November, without missing work or sharing her struggles with coworkers, she received the news that all of the cancerous cells had been cleared.
Andrews spoke out about the fact that she was a survivor in January 2017 and has continued to advocate for cervical cancer screenings. “The message we want to get out to women is: They have to go get tested,” she said of getting tested for cervical cancer. “The stats are insane and they’re shocking, and they don’t need to be this way. But every two hours a female dies of cervical cancer. We’ve got to change that.”
Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, the actress underwent a double mastectomy. The following year, the cancer-free star launched the Right Action Foundation, which provides financial aid to women who want MRIs. “That’s what saved my life, and I want to give back,” she said.
Ewan McGregor revealed in 2008 that sun damage resulted in a cancerous mole on his face that he later had removed. “I had a little skin cancer under my eye,” he explained to the BBC at the time. “I just went to have them checked … I went to see a specialist who thought they were better to be removed and indeed he was correct.”
Maura Tierney was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Tierney was forced to pull out of a TV show shortly before filming began. But the actress (now in remission) is grateful doctors detected the disease early.
“From the beginning, my doctor told me, ‘You’re going to be okay,’ and I chose to believe him,” she said.
Kylie Minogue learned she had breast cancer in 2005 and immediately began intense chemotherapy cycles. “Some days I don’t think about it at all, and other days I’m reminded of physically what I’ve been through,” Minogue (who is now cancer-free) told Us.
Michael C. Hall
Michael C. Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the production of the fourth season of Dexter (in 2010). He kept the news private until shooting wrapped and received treatment during the show’s hiatus. Dexter had a painful secret and for a while, Hall did too, which was useful for the role, he told the New York Times.
Sofia Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002. “When you are a cancer survivor, your priorities in life change,” the actress (who is now in remission) told Extra. Her advice for those currently battling the disease? “Live day to day and try not to think too much about it.”
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, the same disease that took his father’s life a decade earlier. Just one year later, De Niro announced he was in remission. He’s been cancer-free for decades now. One of the truly remarkable celebrities who have fought cancer and won.
Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer in 1996, which later spread to his lungs, abdomen, and brain. He soon underwent chemotherapy and had an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle, which rendered him cancer-free. He then launched the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997…
Cynthia Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram in 2006, though she didn’t announce the news until two years later on Good Morning America. With her cancer now in remission, Nixon serves as an ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
“I felt scared. … I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want this to be happening.’ I was very cognizant of if it’s going to happen, this is the best way for it to happen, that it’s found so early and we can just get right on it,” she said of learning of the diagnosis.
Sheryl Crow underwent a lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation before being declared cancer-free in 2006. Two years later, she unveiled the Sheryl Crow Imaging Center in L.A., which features state-of-the-art digital screening and diagnostic technologies for the early detection of breast cancer.
Barry Watson took a hiatus from 7th Heaven in 2002 when he discovered a lump on his neck. Soon after, he learned he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “I said, ‘I’m going to be fine. I know I am,'” he later recalled. In April 2003, Watson proudly announced he was in remission.
During a routine self-exam, Robin Roberts felt a lump in her breast. “Because I was familiar with my body and the lumps, I knew this one felt different. It was in a different place on my breast, and it was hard,” she told Prevention in a 2011 interview. Roberts was diagnosed with cancer after an ultrasound and biopsy, and first underwent a lumpectomy, then followed with chemo and radiation therapy for further treatment.
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Jane Fonda opened up about her multiple battles with cancer in British Vogue in 2019. “I’ve had a lot of cancer,” she explained. “I was a sun-worshipper. When I have a day off, I frequently go to my skin doctor and have things cut off me by a surgeon.” She also had a mastectomy in 2016 following a breast cancer diagnosis.
- 0.1 How Many Women Does Breast Cancer Effect?
- 0.2 How Many Women Are Diagnosed Each Year?
- 0.3 How Can Early Detection Help?
- 0.4 Who Does Breast Cancer Impact the Most in the US?
- 0.5 How Often Should You Self-Exam?
- 0.6 What Are the Key Signs and Symptoms?
- 1 The American Cancer Society’s Recommendations for Early Detection of Breast Cancer for Women of Average Risk Include:
- 1.1 Ages 40-44:
- 1.2 Ages 45-54:
- 1.3 Women Ages 55 and Older:
- 1.4 What Are the Early Warning Signs of Metastatic Breast Cancer?
- 1.5 What Is the Most Common Symptom of Metastatic Breast Cancer?
- 1.6 What About It Spreading to the Lungs?
- 1.7 How About Spreading to the Brain?
- 1.8 What About Spreading to the Liver?
- 1.9 How Can One Lower Her Risk of Breast Cancer?
- 1.10 Exercise Is Key
- 1.11 Maintain a Healthy Weight
- 1.12 Do Not Smoke or Vape
- 1.13 Eat Those Veggies
- 1.14 Drink in Moderation
- 1.15 New Breakthroughs and Treatments
- 1.16 Further Information and Support
- 1.17 Even More About Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- 2 Learn More About the Celebrities Who Have Fought Cancer and Won.
- 2.1 Sharon Osbourne
- 2.2 Edie Falco
- 2.3 Stanley Tucci
- 2.4 Kathy Griffin
- 2.5 Mark Hoppus
- 2.6 Jeff Bridges
- 2.7 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- 2.8 Ashley Park
- 2.9 Julia Louis-Dreyfus
- 2.10 Wanda Sykes
- 2.11 Hugh Jackman
- 2.12 Fran Drescher
- 2.13 Olivia Newton-John
- 2.14 Len Goodman
- 2.15 Julie Walters
- 2.16 Marcia Cross
- 2.17 Erin Andrews
- 2.18 Christina Applegate
- 2.19 Ewan McGregor
- 2.20 Maura Tierney
- 2.21 Kylie Minogue
- 2.22 Michael C. Hall
- 2.23 Sofia Vergara
- 2.24 Robert De Niro
- 2.25 Lance Armstrong
- 2.26 Cynthia Nixon
- 2.27 Sheryl Crow
- 2.28 Barry Watson
- 2.29 Robin Roberts
- 2.30 Jane Fonda
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