Breast Cancer: Discerning fact from fiction
Merchandise from beauty products to bubble wrap, are awash in pink or bearing a pink ribbon, reminding us that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
“Sometimes I wonder, is the pink for marketing purposes or is the company really contributing to breast cancer research and support,” considers Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health insurance agency.
Questioning the validity of product contributions and charities is responsible when it comes to making philanthropic decisions. Charity Navigator, a charity assessment organization, has reviewed the financial health of the largest organizations working to fight and prevent breast cancer in America. “Although these charities have been very successful at generating support, together raising more than $1.68 billion annually in contributions, the disparity in their financial health is enormous,” says Charity Navigator. Inefficient operations and the lack of accountability and transparency are the main reason many charities miss the mark. Check out their website to find out which organizations and products are truly making a difference.
A new report from the American Cancer Society find that death rates from breast cancer have dropped 39 percent in the United States, between 1989-2015. The decline is attributed to both improvement in treatments and early detection by mammograms.
“An annual mammogram is considered preventative screening. Women age 40 and older have it fully covered by their insurance no matter their deductible or co-pay,” says Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent health insurance agency.
There is a heated debate in our country over when to get a mammogram. Some experts say 40, some say 45, while others say 50. Your best bet is to discuss it with your personal doctor. Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation explains, between 40-49, breast tissue is typically still dense and dense tissue shows up on the mammogram as white, the same color as cancer. This results in false positives and unnecessary biopsies. Generally, after 50, dense tissue is replaced with fatty tissue which is gray, making it easier to identify the cancer.
While great improvements are being made in ending and curing breast cancer, it is still a frightening diagnosis to receive. There are a lot of misunderstandings about breast cancer. Below are some common misconceptions about the disease and the facts.
Myth: If you get breast cancer you will die.
Breast cancer is not a death sentence. By the end of 2017, an estimated 252,710 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. 40,610 women will die from it. African-American women have a higher death rate than white women, while Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander women have much lower incidence and death rates.
Myth: Only women with a family history are at risk.
85 to 90 percent of breast cancer patients have no family history of breast cancer. Risk generally increases with age.
Myth: Underwire bras, sports bras, tight bras or wearing a bra to bed increases your risk.
Myth: Smaller breasted women have less chance of getting breast cancer.
Size does not matter
Myth: Breast cancer comes in the form of a lump.
Breast cancer can be in the form of a lump but women should look for other changes in the breast that may be signs of cancer. These include: swelling, skin irritation, dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple inversion, redness, scaliness, thickening of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk.
Myth: Breast cancer is preventable.
Unfortunately, no. Although, healthy lifestyle changes can help to lower your risk. They include: maintaining a healthy weight, be physically active, limit alcohol and avoid tobacco.
Sources: American Cancer Society, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation