Pink is everywhere during the month of October. Millions of women and men come together in solidarity during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to share their stories, battles, hopes and experiences. With “pink power” on our minds and upcoming gatherings with relatives to celebrate the holidays, one essential key to cancer prevention is clear: the importance of knowing your family history. You may be at greater risk for breast cancer and other cancers if members of your family have been affected by the disease.
Each year, 232,670 women and 2,360 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Nearly 40,430 will die of the disease (an additional 62,570 people are estimated to develop non-invasive carcinoma in-situ). But if diagnosed early and treated before it spreads, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent.
It is important to honor breast cancer survivors and patients currently undergoing treatment, but it is equally important to emphasis the necessity of reducing your risk for breast cancer and other diseases.
Eating healthy, staying active, getting screened and not smoking have a direct impact on your overall cancer risk. But there is one more aspect of cancer prevention that we can directly control: knowledge.
You control what knowledge and information you seek about your family history and risk factors.
In order to be your own health advocate, ask questions about your family’s history of cancer, track when and how these cancers developed and share this information with other relatives. With families gathering over meals this time of the year, now is the perfect time to spark these conversations—and obtaining this knowledge is on your plate. If you don’t take action, who will?
When you have the information that you need, complete this chart and share it with your health care professional and other family members. We can’t fight or prevent what we don’t know about.