Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Baldwin Park, CA - On October 2, Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park leadership hosted a tree planting ceremony on campus in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to commemorate breast cancer survivors. Physicians, employees, and members attended the ceremony. Some of the staff who attended the event were breast cancer survivors while others attended in support of a loved one. Survivors had an opportunity to put their name on a pink ribbon and hang it on the tree, which is located by the member parking structure across from the lagoon.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and serves as a reminder to practice good breast health. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can also appear in men. In the United States, it affects one in eight women. This year, estimated new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. are 229,060 according to the National Cancer Institute.
Breast cancer is a cancerous growth that begins in the tissues of the breast. It is important to know the risk factors associated with breast cancer. Some risk factors, like a person’s age or race, can’t be changed. Other risk factors are related to personal behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and diet. Still others are linked to cancer-causing factors in the environment. Your risk for breast cancer can change over time with aging and lifestyle changes.
“Some lifestyle related factors have been found to be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Having children have been found to reduce the risk. Using estrogen hormonal therapy after menopause may place you at a greater risk. While much is not clear on the exact effects of diet, obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption, all patients are encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Weekly physical activity and weight control is encouraged for all women,” explains Hong Yoon Plurad, MD, General Surgery, Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is an abnormal mammogram. Women without significant family history should have a baseline mammogram at age 40, every two years until age 50 and then every year after that. Breast cancer can also present as a new lump or mass. A mass that is painless, hard and has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous. Being checked by a health care professional with experience in diagnosing breast diseases is recommended.
Other possible signs of breast cancer include:
• Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
• Skin irritation or dimpling
• Nipple retraction (turning inward)
• Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
• A nipple discharge other than breast milk
Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and report any new breast changes to a health professional as soon as they are found.
“Women should not be scared to regularly get their mammograms. The earlier we find the breast cancer, the better the outcome,” advises Dr. Plurad. “With regular mammograms and our high quality integrated health care, we can find cancers earlier and save more lives.”
Be sure to speak to your physician about breast cancer awareness at your next appointment. Visit www.kp.org to find out more information.