Young, Healthy...and at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Ive only seen the previews, but the new movie 50/50 has already won me overfor at least two reasons. The first needs no explanation: Joseph Gordon-Levitts dimples. The second has less to do with my heart, and more to do with my head: the movie is evidence that the cancer conversation is not only getting louderits getting younger too.But if Im allowed one critique of this movie, its that Gordon-Levitts character isnt a woman. A woman with breast cancer.Despite popular perception, breast cancer doesnt just strike once youre over the hill. For about every 18 newly diagnosed cases, one is a woman under the age of 40. Its a group that often has more aggressive types of breast cancer and suffers higher mortality rates. Plus, young women are readily misdiagnosed or diagnosed at a later stage because doctorsand womenoften believe that your 20s and 30s are too young for breast cancer. While age increases your likelihood of acquiring the disease, by no means does youth grant you immunity from it.So whats a young,seemingly healthy girl to do?1. Get to Know Your BodyIf your significant other is more familiar with your chest than you are, then congratulationson your enviable sex life! But more importantly, recognize that its time to step it up and get your feeling-up tally on par with your partners. After all, if you break up, you keep the boobs.The good ol breast self-exam is an easy (and free!) way to get to know the demeanour and feel of your girls. The point is not so much to scour beneath the surface for cancer, but to know whatyour bodys definition of normal isincluding what changes are normalso that you additionally know when something is wrong.Whats normal, and abnormal, varies from woman to womaneveryone has lumps, bumps, inconsistancies, and asymmetries. Did you know you have a whole city under there? According toBreastcancer.org, breasts tend to have different neighborhoods. (Though Im afraid my sorry A-minus-on-a-good-day boobs only have room for one neighborhood.) For the better end! owed, so me areas can feel similar to a sandy beach and others similar to a lumpy bowl of oatmeal. Depending on the time of the month, you probably have changing levels of tenderness too.So be on the demeanour (er, feel) out for anything thats out of the ordinary foryou, and keep in mind that the dreaded lump isnt the only warning sign of breast cancer. Swelling, a rash, breast pain, nipple pain, redness, and scaliness can additionally signal that somethings wrong.The recommendation of breast self exams is still debated among expertsthey can lead to unnecessary biopsies and havent universally been shown to reduce mortality. So if you know your body and find that any of these symptoms persist, dont panicbut additionally dont hesitate to make an appointment with your doc. 2. Understand the Difference Between Statistics & Personal RiskThere is no single breast cancer gene, but there are genetic mutations that can increase your likelihood of acquiring certain forms of the disease. For example, African American women and women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are more likely to get one of the most aggressive types. Others seem to be at least partly hereditary, but all the genes affected have yet to be identified.Talk to your family membersthe women on your mothersand your fathers sideto learn about their health history. From a population perspective, having breast cancer in the family puts you at higher risk for developing the disease yourself.


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