CAMP PENDLETON — More than 263,070 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010. Although this static is alarming, men and women are daily fighting — and winning — their battle with cancer.
Every October, America celebrates National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase awareness and raise funds to research causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and a cure.
During October, pink ribbons are printed on shirts bags and incorporated into advertisements.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation first used the pink ribbon to identify with breast cancer in 1991 when it handed out the now iconic ribbons in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.
Breast cancer differs by individual, age group, and types of cells found with the tumors themselves, and is the fifth leading cause of death in women, followed by heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and lung disease.
Caucasian women are more likely than other races to develop breast cancer, and because “breasts” of an adult male are similar to the breasts of a girl before puberty, it is possible for it to develop in men, according to breastcancer.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information and community to those touched by this disease.
The symptoms are as different for each case as the diversity of those affected by it.Carol Childs, a registered nurse with the Breast Health Clinic, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, said common symptoms include:
New lumps in the breast or underarm.
Thickening or swelling, irritation or dimpling of the breast.
Pain, redness, flaking or pulling in of the nipple area.
Nipple discharge other than milk, including blood.
Any change in size or shape in the breast area.
Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate between civilian and service member. Staff Sgt. Diane Durden, a combat correspondent with Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., found a lump while showering in 2006.
“I wasn’t being diligent about conducting regular self-breast exams, and I had just turned 40 that year, so I did not have a mammogram prior to that,” said Durden.
Women over the age of 40 are encouraged to get routine mammograms every two years. Mammograms, which use low-energy x-rays, are used for early detection of characteristic masses.
“Shortly after I received the diagnosis, I met with an oncology surgeon, with whom I discussed several treatment options,” said Durden.
There are several types of treatment for breast cancer, including:
Surgery – An operation where doctors cut out and remove cancer tissue.
Chemotherapy – Special drugs or medicines given as pills or intravenously attacking the cancer cells directly to shrink or kill the cancer.
Hormonal therapy – Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
Biological therapy – Works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer or to control the side effects or other cancer treatments.
Radiation – High-energy rays are aimed at the part of the body where the cancer is located to kill the cancer cells
Taking the time to do a self-exam at least once a month could mean the difference between early detection and a more rigorous treatment.
For more information about breast cancer and how to help, contact nationalbreastcancer.org, breastcancer.org or komen.org.
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