This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Bring Your Brave campaign. All opinions are 100% mine.
Hey ladies! As a mammographer, I feel it’s my duty (especially in October as it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month) to remind you ladies about understanding your risk for breast cancer. This year I am talking about early onset breast cancer; specifically, breast cancer that is diagnosed before the age of 45.
As a mammographer I have the beautiful calling of lending support, compassion, and care for those who play an active role in their breast health. Sometimes this involves a screening mammogram and other times it's a diagnostic mammogram, where we are looking at or for a suspicious area within the breast. I’ve stood by the side of both women who have trembled with the surprising news of a possible abnormality in their breast and women who are veterans of such a devastating disease.
I haven’t just been on the other side of the breast cancer fence though. Several years ago, at the age of 26, I myself was referred to have a breast ultrasound performed. I put it off for a couple months (healthcare professionals are the worst patients) until finally going in. Thank goodness it was nothing, just dense tissue very close to the skin surface. A quick half an hour seemingly greedily stolen from a busy day, to just be...benign. But it always makes me remember the 28 year old mother of two toddlers whose mammogram I did several years ago. She was already diagnosed with breast cancer and was planning her bilateral mastectomy. It was heart-breaking, but so inspiring to witness her strength and courage with such a terrible diagnosis at such a young age. I’ll never forget her while she always reminds me that even at 28, breast cancer can still prevail. She's the one who reminds me to always pay attention to how breasts look and feel. Bring Your Brave
For this post, I challenge you to #BringYourBrave and find out your risks for developing breast cancer. Did you know that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States? Not all of the women who are diagnosed are post-menopausal though. It’s estimated that 11% of all cases of breast cancer in the United States occur in women under the age of 45. Unfortunately, many young ladies do not know they're at risk or think they don’t need to yet be concerned about their breast health.
Unlike more mature women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, those that are young and diagnosed face unique threats. Breast cancer in young women is:
- More likely to be hereditary.
- More often diagnosed at a later stage.
- More aggressive and difficult to treat.
Every great woman in your life can benefit from learning the risk factors for breast cancer. In addition to the risk factors all women face, some risk factors put women at a higher risk for getting breast cancer at a young age. If the woman is under the age of 45, she may have a higher risk for breast cancer if:
- She has close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45 or ovarian cancer at any age; especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
- She has changes in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 or has close relatives with these changes, but has not been tested.
- She is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
- She received radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
- She has had breast cancer or other breast health problems, such as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
- She has been told that she has dense breasts on a mammogram.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encourages women to take these three important steps to understand their breast cancer risk:
- Know how your breasts normally look and feel; talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual. There's nothing too petty to bring up!
- Talk to your relatives about your family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. The CDC offers a terrific worksheet as a guide for such a conversation.You can find it here.
- Talk to your doctor about your risks for breast cancer.
"Bring Your Brave was launched in 2015 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is its first breast cancer campaign specific to young women. Bring Your Brave aims to inspire young women to learn their risk for breast cancer, talk with their health care provider about their risk, and live a breast healthy lifestyle. The campaign tells real stories about young women whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. These stories about prevention, exploring personal and family history, risk, and talking with healthcare providers bring to life the idea that young women can be personally affected by breast cancer." - Bring Your Brave Campaign - CDC