There is a very good chance you know someone who either has or has had breast cancer.

That's because breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among women in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer among women (only the largely preventable lung cancer kills more women each year).

Last year, there were nearly 290,000 diagnosed cases of breast cancer among women in the United States.

Approximately 1 in 8 women (13%) will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime and 1 in 39 women (3%) will die from breast cancer.

My mother-in-law died from breast cancer. My cousin, with four young daughters at home, died from the dreadful disease. I have two good friends who are currently in remission from breast cancer after having undergone intense treatment.

This evil disease touches us all. If you haven't felt its icy grip, you will.

So when the nation has breast cancer awareness month and you see pink shirts and ribbons and banners everywhere, please understand this is a battle for us all. This is personal ... to all of us.

But there is hope. When caught in its earliest, localized stages, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%. Advances in early detection and treatment methods have significantly increased breast cancer survival rates in recent years, and there are currently over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

So, in an effort to cut through the fog of what to do, here are a few things YOU can do to help fight breast cancer right now:


1. Breast cancer doesn’t always come in the form of a lump.

Breast cancer in its earliest stages usually doesn’t have any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, it’s not always in the form of a lump. Be on the lookout for any of the signs below and report them to your doctor right away.

  • Lump in your breast
  • Swelling in or around your breast, collarbone or armpit
  •  Skin thickening or redness in or around your breast
  • Breast warmth and itching
  • Nipple changes or discharge
  • Breast pain lasting for more than three to four weeks

2. Having a male relative who’s had breast cancer increases your chances.

You may be more likely to get breast cancer if you have a male relative who’s had the disease. This is especially true if it’s a close family member like a father, brother or son. If you fall in this group, talk to your doctor about genetic testing to find out if cancer runs in your family.

3. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your breast cancer risk.

Being overweight or obese — especially after menopause — may raise your cancer risks. To keep your cancer risk low, avoid weight gain by eating healthy foods and staying active. Stick with a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.  And, try to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your day.

4. You don’t need to learn how to do a self-exam.

Studies show that doing monthly breast self-exams isn’t necessary.

Instead, it’s more important to stay aware of how your breasts look and feel. If you notice changes, report them to your doctor without delay. This works just as well as doing a formal breast self-exam.

5. Drinking several glasses of alcohol a day can up your breast cancer risk.

Having a glass of wine now and again is not bad for your health. But, drinking several glasses a day can increase your breast cancer risk.


Consider giving generously to these charities in a fight to find the cure for breast cancer:

American Cancer Fund

Breast Cancer Alliance

Breast Cancer Research Fund

National Breast Cancer Foundation




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