Raising Awareness About Breast Cancer

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By YMCA of Greater Monmouth County

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Y is reminding all women in the community of the importance of having an annual mammogram

and talking to your doctor about the proper method of self-examination to increase the chances of early detection. Getting screened for breast cancer is one of the best things you can do for your health, and the best way to find cancer is with a mammogram.

Simply being a woman and getting older puts you at an increased risk for breast cancer. Experts estimate that 1 in 8 women alive today will get breast cancer. That’s a scary figure, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling helpless. Instead, take time to learn more about breast cancer and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

In addition to aging, other factors are known to put a woman at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer. You may be at higher risk if you have any of the following risk factors and should discuss them with your doctor:

• A personal history of breast cancer. If you’ve had breast cancer once, you’re more likely to get it again than someone who’s never had it. • A family history of breast cancer, especially in a mother, sister, or daughter.
• Certain benign breast conditions, such as atypical hyperplasia.
• Changes in certain genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2), which can be found with genetic testing.

• No full-term pregnancies or first full-term pregnancy after age 30. • Starting your period before age 12.
• Going through menopause after age 55.
• Taking hormones after menopause.

• White women are at higher risk than Asian, Latina, or African-American women.
• Radiation therapy to the chest before age 30.
• Having dense breasts.
• Having taken DES (diethylstilbestrol). This drug was prescribed in the 1940s through 1960s to help prevent miscarriage.Women whose mothers took this drug may also be at higher risk of breast cancer.

• Being overweight after menopause.
• Not being physically active.
• Drinking alcohol. The more you drink, the higher your risk.

The Red Bank Family YMCA, located at 166 Maple Avenue in Red Bank, offers the Y’s national LIVESTRONG program for cancer survivors including anyone who has had surgery, chemo or radiation related to cancer. LIVE STRONG at the YMCA is a free twelve-week, small group exercise program that is open to the community and designed for cancer survivors 18 years and older who want to regain their health after having become de-conditioned and fatigued from treatment. Program participants must receive medical clearance to participate. For more information on participating in the LIVE STRONG at the YMCA, call 732.741.2504, ext. 210 or e-mail livestrong@ymcanj.org.

For more information about the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County, visit www.ymcanj.org.