Understanding the basics of breast and ovarian cancer is one of the most take-charge things you can do for yourself. No matter your age, putting Awareness in Action™ can make a powerful difference in both your own health and the health of the women you care about.
1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime—it’s the leading cancer diagnosis among women. 1 in 78 women will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime, and 2/3 of those diagnosed will die from their disease.
The facts might not be easy to face, but the great news is there are a variety of steps you can take to be proactive!
Prevention & Early Detection
Let’s beat those odds. When caught early, the five-year survival rate for breast and ovarian cancer can be greater than 92%. As a young woman, you may not think this applies to you. But when it comes to detection, 80% of breast cancers in young women are self-discovered, and later confirmed by a medical professional.
Not only should you practice early detection strategies, but you can also actively reduce your risk by living a proactive healthy lifestyle. The power is in your hands to start practicing healthy behaviors early, so that they’ll last a lifetime.
“I fall in the 80% category, meaning I detected the lump myself and got it checked out the following day. Knowing your body and when something’s not right can save your life!”
How It Starts
When certain genes in your body undergo a mutation, they can’t properly regulate the way cells grow, divide, and die. Some of these cells can grow out of control, causing cancer.
You now know that breast cancer will affect one in eight women at some point in their lifetime, and is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 15 to 54. Ovarian cancer, while far less common than breast cancer, is often called “the silent killer,” because its symptoms can be very difficult to detect. As a result, only about 19% of cases are caught before the cancer spreads.
This is why it’s so important to be proactive about your breast and ovarian health — and figure out how you can reduce your risk today.
Ask Your Family
Breast and ovarian cancer are often linked in families, and can sometimes be associated with other cancers. It’s important to know your family health history to understand your own risk for breast and ovarian cancer. For example, if you have even one close relative with breast cancer, your personal risk for the disease is twice that of the general population.
Find out which relatives—on both your biological mother’s and father’s sides, if you are able—have had cancer of any kind, which types, and how old they were when diagnosed. You can use this guide to help you collect and keep track of the information.
If you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you should ask your doctor about genetic testing. And if you already have breast or ovarian cancer, understanding whether your cancer is hereditary in nature can impact your family members and help you and your doctors create a more personalized healthcare plan.