1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
Common Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
As with any disease, there are many factors that contribute to increased risk for a diagnosis. This is not to say that if you have any of those factors, or even many of them, that you are likely get breast cancer in your lifetime. That isn’t true. However, researchers often see these risk factors present in folks who develop breast cancer. Given that, it’s wise to monitor these factors moving forward. Also, it’s important to acknowledge that many of these factors also influence an overall quality of life. Taking care of your holistic health may mean addressing any of the non-genetic factors below for better quality of live moving forward.
Common risk factors, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation:
- A family history of breast cancer (including, but not limited to, BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations)
- Women and those assigned female at birth (AFAB) aged 50 or older
- White women are diagnosed more often than women of other races (despite this Black women are 40% more likely to die from the illness)
- Having dense breast tissue (makes tissue abnormality detection harder)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Greater consumption of alcohol
- Combined hormone replacement therapy (such as is often the case with menopause treatment)
The Emotional Impact
A diagnosis can be incredibly scary. Diagnosis means navigating not only the physical symptoms of the disease, but also the emotional and psychological impact. Diagnosis can come with increased anxiety, depression and hopelessness. Additionally, navigating a major health crisis can also negatively impact relationships.
Many treatment facilities offer mental health resources in order to help patients, and family members, navigate a diagnosis. These support groups can be incredibly helpful community spaces for caregivers to find support and advice from others who understand the challenges of treatment. Support for patients focuses on building resilience, hope and mutual support in navigating the complicated, and often exhausting, treatment regimens.
How You Can Take Action
You can take action in supporting awareness in two key ways: 1) share this post and have conversations with people around you, and 2) complete your own self-examination and schedule annual mammograms as a matter of routine.
Both of these options go a long way in reducing risk and encouraging early intervention. Early intervention is one of the best strategies for effectively addressing breast cancer in the individual, and society as a whole. This is why awareness is important.
Take good care of yourself, and your loved ones. Get a screening and encourage others to do the same.
To access more information and resources you can visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Are you struggling with a diagnosis yourself, or that of a loved one? Our team of therapists are here to help you navigate the stress, anxiety and grief that may be impacting you. Submit an inquiry via our New Client page to start support today.