Here's What Latinas Need To Know About Breast Cancer Detection & Awareness

Here's What Latinas Need To Know About Breast Cancer Detection & Awareness
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Every October, women across the country flaunt their Pink Pride in order to raise awareness of breast cancer. However, how much do you actually know about the cancer that affects one in 10 Latinas? We talked with Orgullosa and La Liga Contra El Cancer to get the facts about breast cancer in a Facebook chat on Wednesday afternoon. Here's what we learned: 

1: What is breast cancer?

According to the American Cancer Association, breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. 

2:What are the signs and symptoms?

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. Other possible signs include: swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or irritation, or discharge other than breast milk.

3: Who is at risk of developing breast cancer?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) indicates that simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer. Men can develop breast cancer, but this disease is about 100 times more common among women than men. 

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4: What about breast cancer in the Latino community?

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Hispanic women. This is due to the lower rates of mammography utilization, family history, late menopause, postmenopausal obesity, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity.

5: Are women more likely to get breast cancer if they have a family history of breast cancer?

If you've had one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is doubled. If two first-degree relatives have been diagnosed, your risk is five times higher than average. That said, only about 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child. But having a relative who was diagnosed doesn’t mean you have these genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), so you’ll want to speak with your doctor about whether the gene test is for you and if you should start having screenings 10 years earlier than recommended.

6: What kinds of tests are used to screen for breast cancer?

Mammogram, clinical breast exam and an MRI.

Breast self-exams may be done by women or men to check their breasts for lumps or other changes. It is important to know how your breasts usually look and feel. If you feel any lumps or notice any other changes, talk to your doctor. 

7: When should I begin checking for breast cancer?

You should start self-exams at age 20 and have a clinical breast exam every three years. At age 40, you should add a mammogram annually.

8: How is breast cancer treated?

The general types of treatment for breast cancer according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) are: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.  

9: What is Orgullosa doing for breast cancer awareness month?

Orgullosa created a series of social postcards that showcase the patterns to follow for breast self-examination: up and down, circular and wedge.

The social postcards will be available on Facebook.com/Orgullosa. For every share, Orgullosa will donate $1 to @LIGA Contra El Cancer, up to $30,000. 

10: What can I do to support a colleague, friend or family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer?

Learn to listen. Distract her with little surprises. Offer a helping hand to run errands or help around the house. Show your support by joining a walk, attending an event, sharing information and creating a dialogue.

PLUS: The Important Fact About Breast Cancer That Survivor Adamari Lopez Wants You To Know