Sleepy Hollow Fire Department
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October 2019 is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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October 1, 2019

Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among American women. An estimated 271,270 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer diagnoses and 7 percent of all cancer deaths each year.
What causes breast cancer?

Breasts are made of a variety of different tissues, including ducts, lobes and lobules and glands that produce milk and carry it to the nipple. The breasts also contain lymph nodes and fatty tissue. Cancer develops when cells in the breast mutate and grow out of control, forming a tumor. Most breast cancers—about 80 percent—are ductal carcinomas, which begin in milk ducts. About 10 percent of all breast cancers are lobular carcinomas, which develop in the lobes or glands that produce milk.

Other factors that may increase a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer include:

Breast density
Menstrual history
A sedentary lifestyle
Heavy drinking
Previous medical treatments

Learn more about risk factors for breast cancer
Who gets breast cancer?

The risk for developing breast cancer increases with age. According to the National Cancer Institute:

The average age of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is 62.
The average age of a woman who dies from breast cancer is 68.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women between age 55 and 64.
About 10 percent of breast cancers occur in women younger than 45.

Women with a family history of breast cancer may be at a higher risk for developing the disease. For example:

Women whose mother, sister or daughter has or had breast cancer may have double the risk.
Women who have inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at higher risk.

Breast cancer also occurs in men, but is very rare. Approximately 2,670 American men will learn they have breast cancer in 2019, the American Cancer Society estimates. Male breast cancer accounts for 1 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Get answers to top breast cancer questions
Types of breast cancer

There are many types and subtypes of breast cancer, but most are adenocarcinomas of the breast. Adenocarcinoma tumors are found in many common cancers, including prostate, lung and colorectal. These types of tumors form in glands or ducts that secrete fluid. Breast adenocarcinomas form in milk ducts or milk-producing glands called lobules. Each type of breast cancer may be determined based on where in the breast it develops, whether it is considered invasive or non-invasive and whether it is driven by hormones or proteins. Types of breast cancer include:

Adenocystic carcinoma
Ductal carcinoma
Inflammatory breast cancer
Lobular carcinoma
Metaplastic carcinoma
Phyllodes tumor

Subtypes of breast cancer include those driven by specific hormones, such as estrogen, progestogen or the protein HER2. Sixty percent of breast cancers are estrogen-positive. Twenty percent of breast cancers are HER2-positive. Another 20 percent are triple-negative breast cancers, a type of breast cancer that tests negative for estrogen, progesterone and HER2. Triple-negative breast cancer is among the more aggressive forms of the disease.

Breast cancer cells can spread into the lymph nodes in and around the breasts and, from there, travel and form tumors in distant parts of the body. When that occurs, it is called metastatic breast cancer. When it spreads, breast cancer is most often found in the brain, bones, liver and lungs. It is still considered breast cancer even if it is found on other parts of the body.

Learn more about breast cancer types
Breast cancer symptoms

A lump, mass and change in the feel or position of the breast are among the most common symptoms of breast cancer. Other symptoms include:

Swelling, redness or inflammation
Changes in the nipple
Nipple discharge
Pain in the breast
Itchy or irritated breasts
Changes in color
Peeling or flaky skin

Learn more about breast cancer symptoms
Diagnosing breast cancer

Tools and tests used to diagnose breast cancer include:

Lab tests, including advanced genomic testing
Imaging tests, including ultrasound and mammography

Different tests are used to determine whether the breast cancer has metastasized. These tests include:

Radiofrequency ablation
Endobronchial ultrasound
Bone scan

Learn more about diagnostic procedures for breast cancer
Treating breast cancer

Surgery is a common treatment option for breast cancer. Other treatment options include:

Hormone therapy
Radiation therapy
Targeted therapy


The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports that a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes. Innovations in research, surgical options and clinical trials give women many more options. With early detection, a woman’s survival rate goes up. That’s why breast self exams are an important way for women to give their “girls” a fighting chance, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month..
How to Observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month

1. Share a story
Cancer survivors, family members, caregivers and medical professionals have a chance to share their perspectives on how cancer impacts their lives. Do an online search of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you'll discover various organizations that have links to social media blogs, video platforms and more. Upload your story and feel proud that you are one more voice of victory against this disease.

2. Think pink
Pink is the color du jour for October's campaign. Some people change their website's background colors to pink for the month. Others rummage through their closets and pull out pink everything — sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, entire outfits — even wigs! Many workplaces hold Pink Days to encourage coworkers to get involved in the fight against breast cancer.

3. Raise some money
October is the primary fundraising month for Breast Cancer Awareness and whatever you give is appreciated. Hold a raffle, coordinate a talent show or simply write a check. It all helps to fund life-saving cancer research. Large corporations use October to make mega-sized donations. On the smaller scale, fill up a dozen pink piggy banks and make your donation.
​Five Reasons Why October Is The Pinkest Month

1. ​Breast cancer doesn't discriminate

​Although breast cancer is more prevalent among American white women, African-American women tend to die from the disease more often.

2. ​Breast cancer can baffle scientists

​Scientists don't really understand why the left breast seems to develop cancer more often than the right breast.

3. ​Breast cancer surgery was a trailblazer

The very first operation to use anesthesia to deaden pain was a breast cancer surgery.

4. ​Men get it, too

​Overall, only one percent of American males are diagnosed with breast cancer, but African-American men just like women in their community, are more prone to die from the disease.

5. ​Breast cancer—the nuns' disease

​At one time, breast cancer was called "the nuns' disease" because it seemed to afflict more nuns than women in the general population.
Why Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Important

A. It promotes self-care
Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds women (and men ) that monthly breast cancer exams should be a regular part of one's self care. If you have never performed a self-exam, ask your doctor or nurse practitioner to guide you through. Look for changes within and surrounding your breast including dimpling, redness, scaliness or nipple discharge. Granted, some breasts are a little more "lumpy" than others but changes in size or in the tissue should send up a red alert to make an appointment to see your physician.

B. It focuses on treatment
There are several different types of breast cancer. Treatment options depend on various patient factors: the stage and specific type of cancer, age and overall health at the time of diagnosis, and the patient's personal and family history. After the diagnosis, a patient should consult with family to choose a physician who can go over treatment options like surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation,

C. It shouts the good news
The National Cancer Institute recently declared that the U.S. cancer rate fell for diagnosed women between 2006-2015. Also, the FDA approved an at-home genetic testing kit for women to assess whether they carry any of the three gene mutations associated with breast cancer. Oncoplastic surgery, another positive option, is a surgical "two-fer" allowing the removal of cancerous breast tissue immediately followed by the re-sculpting of the breast's remaining tissue, restoring symmetry and a more natural appearance.

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