As October arrives and brings Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Liberty Military Housing (Liberty) stands firmly committed to raising awareness about this disease. Throughout this month, we aim to shine a light on the impact of breast cancer, a disease that touches the lives of millions annually.
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? While you can’t prevent cancer, being proactive about your health is essential. Early detection includes monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms. Breast cancer symptoms can vary, with a breast lump being the most recognized sign. Other common indicators include changes in breast appearance, size, texture, and breast pain. Early detection boosts survival rates, with a 99% 5-year relative survival rate for localized cases. Monthly self-exams, clinical breast exams, and mammograms are vital. If you notice any breast changes, consult your doctor for evaluation and guidance.
Ready to begin the breast health conversation? Watch this informative video about what you need to know when discussing breast cancer screenings with your doctor.
Breast Cancer in the military
Breast cancer affects women from all walks of life, but the risk is even higher for our military heroes. Studies show that female active duty service members have a 20%-40% higher incidence rate of breast cancer than the general public, according to the CDMRP, Department of Defense. Even more alarming is that this increased risk for breast cancer among military women is seven times higher than the average risk for fifteen other types of cancer. This heightened risk is a cause for concern within the uniformed community. While civilian doctors typically recommend yearly checkups and mammograms from ages 40 to 45, it is widely acknowledged that women who have served should begin their breast cancer screening much earlier due to their elevated risk.
On June 7, 2022, President Joe Biden signed two significant acts into law: the MAMMO for Veterans Act and the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act. These bills expand healthcare access for veterans by providing mammogram access to those residing in states where the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doesn't offer mammograms, upgrading VA breast imaging facilities to include 3-D breast imaging, and extending mammography screenings to military members who served in specific locations and were exposed to toxic substances such as burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Breaking the Silence: Men and Breast Cancer Awareness
While pink often takes the spotlight in breast cancer awareness campaigns, it's crucial to recognize that this disease can also affect men. The American Cancer Society projects that in 2023, approximately 2,800 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men, leading to around 530 male deaths from breast cancer. Sadly, men face a 25% higher mortality rate than women, primarily because breast cancer is mistakenly perceived as a "woman's disease." This misconception can lead men to disregard symptoms, resulting in later-stage diagnoses and potentially poorer outcomes.
Men need to be aware of how they can detect breast cancer. The symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those in women, including:
The presence of a mass beneath the nipple
Nipple inversion or retraction
Nipple discharge, which may be bloody or clear
Skin dimpling or puckering
Redness or scaling of the nipple
Organizations making a difference in the fight against breast cancer
The Brem Foundation draws inspiration from Dr. Rachel Brem's mission and life journey. As the Director of the Breast Imaging and Intervention Center and the Program Leader for Breast Cancer at the George Washington Cancer Center, Dr. Brem tirelessly works to prevent breast cancer-related fatalities. The foundation offers various programs and resources to assist women in their battle against breast cancer. These initiatives include:
The educational program "Get Screened: On Time, Every Time" empowers women with knowledge about their risk factors, screening options, and self-advocacy skills, enabling them to take charge of their breast health.
The "Re-Bra" program establishes a mutually beneficial, anonymous connection between women who have undergone breast surgery and those who cannot afford bras. By donating bras to lower-income women, this program provides comfort and support and grants access to breast health information, leading to happier lives.
In 2019, in partnership with Lyft, the Brem Foundation introduced the "Wheels for Women" ride-sharing program. This initiative offers free transportation to and from breast screening and diagnostic exams, ensuring women access essential breast care. Notably, within three years, "Wheels for Women" celebrated its 1,000th ride to lifesaving care.
The "B-Fund" collaborates with local breast imaging centers and nonprofit medical providers to bridge the financial gap between what health insurance covers and the diagnostic testing required to initiate a treatment plan.
The Pink Wig Project originated in 2009 when its founder, Teri Trotter, received a breast cancer diagnosis. Faced with a double mastectomy and four rounds of chemotherapy, she shaved her head before her hair loss began. Dissatisfied with conventional wigs, Teri donned a vibrant pink wig during a girls' night out and experienced newfound freedom. Inspired by this, Teri was determined to provide pink wigs to every woman undergoing breast cancer treatment. Today, The Pink Wig Project has touched women's lives worldwide, helping them rediscover their sense of self and empowerment. To learn more about The Pink Wig Project, click here.
The HIS Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation was established to raise awareness about breast cancer in men and provide them with information about its impact, early detection methods, self-examinations, and support groups. Furthermore, HIS contributes to funding research that promises significant advancements in education, prevention, treatment, and, ultimately, finding a cure. Please click here to learn more about the HIS Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation and its efforts to combat breast cancer in men.