Breast cancer awareness: How to spot symptoms and risk factors on your own
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You're looking in the mirror, examining your naked torso, and maybe you're noticing something off about your nipple area. Maybe it looks oddly shaped today, or there's a redness about it. It might even feel a little sensitive too. A few thoughts flicker across your mind, you run a Google search of the symptoms and you're not quite sure of whether you're just being over paranoid about the possibility of it being breast cancer. This fear of uncertainty and lack of knowledge about our own breasts is easily something that many of us women could encounter. Compared to a regular flu or fever, we're mostly unaware about the symptoms and risks involved and somehow the possibility of it happening seems a lot closer to us. So ladies — no matter your age, it's never too late to get educated on the health risks surrounding your breasts.
In light of it being Pink October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Seriously Keto is collaborating with Breast Cancer Foundation to raise awareness and improve conversations about the cancer type. Earlier this month, an informative webinar was held with Ms Janti Brasali, the founder of Seriously Keto, and Dr. Steven Tucker, a medical director and oncologist, to explain the role that dietary changes can have on breast cancer risk. As a medical oncologist and director of Tucker Medical, Dr. Tucker is well-respected for his dedication to cancer prevention and treatment, and attempts to experiment with his treatment types e.g including individualized low-carb and ketogenic diets during chemotherapy.
Below, we asked Dr. Tucker to weigh in further on the risk factors surrounding breast cancer and other symptoms to look out for.
According to Dr, Tucker, there is honestly too much variability when it comes to the cancer type: no one can ever be guaranteed a safe pass nor a confirmed diagnosis till you seek professional medical advice. As for women, we are advised to start doing regular self-breast examinations every month once you hit the age of 30. That being said, here's a list of factors to take into consideration and give you more information about your own possible risk of contracting the disease:
As with all things, our bodies are more susceptible to more diseases and health concerns when we grow older. Breast cancer is no stranger to this and Dr. Tucker advises that the risk increases for those over the age of 50 too.
History of Cancer
Family history is always something we know we've got to look out for. But rather than just cancer, the risk is definitely higher if your mum or grandmother had breast cancer specifically. You may also want to watch out if you've had to go through, or are still fighting through ovarian cancer yourself.
This is probably harder to remember, but think about when you first had your first period. If you were an early menstruator and/or only went through menopause later in your life than most, you might be at higher risk of the cancer type.
Child-bearing (or none)
If you had your kids later in your 30s or you're choosing not to be a child-bearer, this may or may not put you at a higher risk.
If you're on hormone replacement therapy, you've gained significant weight (especially post-menopause) or you're a frequent alcohol consumer, you're also advised to err on the side of caution.
This sounds scary, but most women will not have any warning signs for early stages of breast cancer. This is also why Dr Tucker recommends booking screenings with the proper equipment and medical advisors: mammograms, ultrasound and MRI are all definitely beneficial especially if you find yourself amidst the pool of higher-risk individuals. Despite this, here are some of the symptoms provided by the doctor himself — although he warns against jumping to conclusions too quickly.
When you are examining your own breasts, look out for:
New lumps in the breast or underarm (armpit area)
Thickening or swelling of parts of the breast or skin around breasts
Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
Red or flaky skin in the nipple area or breast
Pulling or puckering of the nipple
Pain in the nipple area
Nipple discharge: blood, pus etc. aka anything that is not breast milk
Change in size or shape of breast
Pain in any area of breast
Whatever it is however, many of these symptoms can also occur due to other conditions that are not breast cancer. For many of us women, most of our breast-related problems can actually be linked back to non-cancer issues. So Dr. Tucker's biggest advice is to just seek help from a medical professional as soon as you can — especially if you're experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Little steps in line with better health? Think about our own personal risk factors and reflect on what can actually be improved with regards to our personal lifestyles. For example: if you're a frequent alcohol drinker or weight gain has been a concern as of late, you could take steps to counter those. Of course, whether or not it actually helps prevent or delay the onset of breast cancer, no one can say for sure. So we say keep checking up on your breasts, keep your bodies fit and well-nourished, and see the doctor when you feel like you need to.
In support of Pink October, Seriously Keto will be donating 5 percent of this month's sale proceeds to the BCF. The bakery has also designed two limited-edition pink T-shirts (retailing at $23 each) adorned with the cute statement "Anti Sugar Sugar Club" — of which all 100 percent of the sales will go to the foundation. You can also make a donation in-store and get a pink ribbon in return.