By Stacey Avila

The parades, the walks, the pink ribbon that speaks volumes in silence. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is more than awareness, it’s about breaking the Barriers that still lie within our health care involving the once breast cancer effects. 1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. 

in 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

With all this being said, let’s begin to understand. What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease where the cells in the breast tissue grow out of control. As they grow, they can form a mass or a lump, called a tumor. Some of these tumors that form in the breast are malignant, or cancerous. The cells of these tumors can spread into the surrounding breast tissue in a process called invasion, or invasive breast cancer. 

How do you get breast cancer?

No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors have yet to understand why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. 95% of Breast cancer occurs as a result of a spontaneous gene mutation throughout a person’s lifetime. 5% of people develop breast cancer from a gene mutation that was inherited from their parents.

Detecting Breast Cancer Early.

Self-exams are extremely important, knowing how your breasts normally feel and look can save your life. 

Possible Breast Cancer Symptoms 

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt)
  • Skin dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking, or thickened 
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  • Swollen lymph nodes 

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or round. They can even be painful. For this reason, it’s important to have any new breast mass or lump checked by your Midwife/OBGYN.

Early detection is the best way to fight breast cancer. 

Follow the recommendations below to ensure you are doing everything you can. 

  1. Perform a self-breast exam monthly. The Birth Center will teach you how to perform a breast exam on yourself at your annual.
  2. See your Midwife for an annual exam each year. If you find yourself overdue for an appointment? Call The Birth Center now to schedule at 302-658-2229.
  3. If a mammogram is recommended by your OB/GYN, make sure to schedule the appointment and get the mammogram!

Lastly, make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of breast cancer! (These behaviors can help lower breast cancer risk, but they can’t eliminate it.)

Interested in more information?

 The National Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society have a wealth of information.