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What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Since its inception in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has grown into an international health campaign to support the efforts of cancer research and provide support to those affected by breast cancer. Many organizations across the country dedicate the month of October to promoting breast cancer awareness. Organized races, fundraisers and campaigns are held each year in October to raise funds for treatment, research, patient support and so much more.
In 1991, the pink ribbon was established as the official symbol for breast cancer awareness and support. Since it’s introduction, the pink ribbon has become a widely-recognized identifier for breast cancer support, displaying solidarity among women to combat the disease. Hundreds of products and publications use the pink ribbon as a symbol of their support to drive additional awareness and funds.
What The Center does for breast cancer survivors
We provide reconstructive services for women who have lost a breast or breasts from breast cancer treatment. Our goal is to restore the breast to a natural and proportional shape and appearance following a mastectomy or other procedure. This type of reconstruction helps a woman restore her sense of well-being and normalcy.
Thankfully, advancements in care and implants have created a considerable reduction in surgery complications and more optimistic long-term outcomes than ever before. It is important for a breast cancer patient to know that she will eventually go on to lead an ordinary, full life. Past patients have found that surgery restores their senses of wholeness, well being and femininity. In fact, few – if any – women who have undergone reconstructive surgery ever say they should have reconsidered.
“These women who have, or are undergoing, breast cancer treatment are fantastic role models for all of us. They are troopers, persevering despite fear, pain and the unknown. They continue to be optimistic and continue to take care of family, work, and more. They are all to be applauded. I am grateful for the impact they have had in my life as a family man and as a surgeon.”
Dr. Todd Van Ye
Breast Cancer Statistics
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.
• It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among women, following lung cancer.
• About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2013 in the US.
• About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed. This form of cancer is non-invasive in the earliest stages.
• About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer this year.
• Today, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US.
Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society
Meet Kelly – A Breast Cancer Survivor
“I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in October of 2012. After my initial visit, I was so relieved. Dr. Van Ye was very kind and compassionate. He took his time with me and my family to make sure that all of our questions were answered.
“As I moved through the mastectomy and reconstruction process, things could not have gone better! Dr. Van Ye has an incredible eye for detail and to say I am THRILLED is an understatement! I feel amazing and love my new new breast size.
“I have nothing but EXCELLENT praises for Dr. Van Ye and his staff at The Center. They are second to none, and I am lucky to have them on my care team!”
How to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk
- Certain risk factors for breast cancer can be reduced with simple lifestyle changes. Studies show that the following habits may decrease your breast cancer risk:
- Limit alcohol consumption: More than one alcoholic beverage per day has been shown to increase breast cancer risk.
- Stop smoking: There is a link between smoking and breast cancer risk. Quitting impacts not only breast cancer risk, but it also contributes to better overall health.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese places a woman at higher risk for developing breast cancer. Physical activity and a healthy diet are recommended to promote a healthy weight and reduce their breast cancer risk.
- Avoid exposure to radiation: Only have X-rays and CT scans done when absolutely necessary to avoid any unnecessary exposure to radiation, a known breast cancer risk factor.
- Limit hormone therapy: Breast cancer rates increased when hormone therapy was introduced, due to its ability to create abnormal cell growth. Foregoing or limiting the duration and dose of estrogen-progestin hormone therapy may decrease your risk for developing breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding provides a protective effect for a woman’s breast health.
- Regular cancer screenings: The CDC recommends regular cancer screenings in order to reduce the risk of cancer progression. Early detection is important for a more successful outcome.
Sources: the CDC and the Institute of Medicine
How to Regain a Sense of Normalcy
In Dr. Van Ye’s experience, reconstructive surgery helps a woman regain a sense of normalcy, including physical appearance, femininity, and intimacy.
Click Here To Learn More About Breast Reconstruction
Special lingerie and swimwear
Services like those provided by All About You in Appleton help women find the absolute perfect fit for prosthetics, bras and other specialized mastectomy gear. “The impact that these products have on a woman’s well being is tremendous, It is amazing to see a woman who just had surgery, or women who have been diagnosed years ago put on these products. They will start to cry and tell me they didn’t think they could ever look or feel this good again. Not only are these products important to their physical appearance, but also to their mental and emotional state.”
Exercise can improve mood, boost self-confidence and reduce fatigue in women who are battling or recovering from breast cancer. The energy, stamina, and strength developed through exercise can make a woman feel stronger in her ability to handle and fight the disease.
Maintaining normal habits and routines from before a cancer diagnosis is a great way to maintain a sense of normalcy during the healing process. Picking up new hobbies may also provide an outlet for stress relief.
Finding other women who identify with your experience first-hand and can offer extra reassurance that you are not alone can help you build a strong basis of support. Social support is one factor that contributes to better quality of life.
Breast cancer is without a doubt a stressful event in a woman’s life. Practicing breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, and other coping mechanisms can help you manage that stress from the time of the original diagnosis to remission.
Sources: American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation
The Truth Behind the Top 10 Breast Cancer Myths
Myth #1: I have a lump in my breast. It must be breast cancer.
Actually, only a small percentage of noticeable lumps in the breast are diagnosed as breast cancer. It’s much more likely that a lump is a benign cyst or fibroadenoma. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. Any abnormalities or changes in breast tissue should be reported to your doctor.
Myth #2: Men can’t get breast cancer.
While the percentage may be small, it is estimated that about 2,190 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and 410 (18%) of those men will die. The lack of awareness and rarity of men’s breast cancer contributes to its obscurity.
Myth #3: Antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer.
There is no conclusive evidence that antiperspirants or deodorants cause breast cancer. It is much more important to address the known risk factors of breast cancer and take steps to avoid lifestyle risk factors as much as possible.
Myth #4: All women have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer.
Each individual woman’s risk for developing breast cancer depends on a variety of factors, both known and unknown. The chance of getting breast cancer most notably increases as women get older, but genetic and lifestyle risk factors also affect a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer at some point in her lifetime.
Myth #5: Small-breasted women are less likely to get breast cancer than large-breasted women.
There’s no connection between a woman’s risk for breast cancer and the size of her breasts. However, it may be trickier to detect breast cancer in women with larger, denser breasts.
Myth #6: The exposure to radiation from mammograms puts you at higher risk.
The exposure to radiation during mammography is small, especially in comparison to the preventative benefits that the procedure provides. The American Cancer Society recommends that women without any breast symptoms have a yearly mammogram, starting at age 40.
Myth #7: If your mammogram is clean, you have nothing to worry about.
Although mammograms are one of the leading detectors of breast cancer, 10 to 20% of cancers can be missed with this method. It is still absolutely essential to perform routine self-checks and have regular clinical breast exams.
Myth #8: Certain hair care products such as hair straighteners can cause breast cancer.
Research has found no increased risk between those who regularly use these products and their breast cancer risk.
Myth #9: Mastectomies give you a better chance for survival.
Rates for survival are nearly the same between those who have mastectomies and those who have lumpectomies followed by radiation, except in some cases where DCIS disease or the BRCA gene are present.
Myth #10: Lumps are the only signs of breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are many other signs that could indicate breast cancer among which are skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or retraction, nipple redness or scaliness, and breast discharge (other than breast milk). In one rarer type of cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, women may notice redness or thickening of the breast skin and sometimes swelling of the breast. Any noticeable changes in the breast should be reported to your doctor.
Sources: WebMD, American Cancer Society
Local Breast Cancer Medical Centers
Affinity Health System Breast Center: The Affinity Breast Center was the first comprehensive breast center in the Fox Cities dedicated to early diagnosis, personalized treatment, care, and survival of breast cancer. Locations in Oshkosh, Appleton, and Chilton offer convenient access to some of the best specialized care in the area. Private waiting rooms and suites make the experience as comfortable and confidential as possible.
ThedaCare Breast Center: Accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, ThedaCare offers a full range of first-rate cancer treatment options, including surgical, medical, and radiation oncology. The community atmosphere is also designed to comfort and reassure patients.
Aurora Healthcare Breast Center: with locations in Oshkosh and Appleton, the Aurora Breast Center is with you every step of the way, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. They develop personalized treatment plans using the most advanced options through the collaboration of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and other specialists on your team.
Local Breast Cancer Support Organizations
Pink Party Breast Cancer Foundation: The annual Pink Party includes all-day music, a fundraising walk, cribbage tournament, event expo, silent auctions, raffles, and other events throughout the day. Funds raised at Pink Party events are used to support breast cancer research, support local breast cancer organization, and assist local women and men in need.
You Are Not Alone (YANA): This group meets regularly at the Appleton Medical Center, 1818 N. Meade St., Appleton. YANA provides support for women who are coping with breast cancer. For more information, call (920) 380-1500.
TREK Breast Cancer Awareness Ride: Local Trek bicycle retailers host the annual Trek Breast Cancer Awareness Ride, featuring 10- and 25-mile group bike rides. The goal of these rides is to increase awareness, raise research funds, and unite local communities in the fight against breast cancer. All registration fees are donated directly to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Making Strides: Every step at one of these American Cancer Society (ACS) walks makes strides toward breast cancer research. At the local Making Strides event, walkers join Shantrell Williams, wife of Green Bay Packer Tramon Williams, on a fight to end breast cancer. Participants take part in a non-competitive 3 to 5 mile walk to honor breast cancer survivors, raise awareness, and raise funds for the ACS.
Affinity Support Groups: Affinity offers several American Cancer Society support groups at the facilities including I Can Cope, Navigator, Reach to Recovery, and Look Good Feel Better.
Wisconsin Well Woman Program: Those with limited insurance or none at all may be eligible to get a free breast screening through this statewide program.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Some of the possible warning signs of cancer include:
- A new mass or lump in or around the breast of any size
- A lump or thickening in the breast that persists through the menstrual cycle
- Discharge from the nipple that is not breast milk
- A change in the size, shape or contour of the breast
- Dimpling, puckering, pain or inflammation in the breast
- Thickening or swelling in the breast
- Inversion of the nipple
These are not the only signs, and these signs are not always indicative of cancer. Any questions or concerns should be addressed with your doctor.
Sources: WebMD and the CDC
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