Stand Up To Cancer Shares What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Breast Cancer Awareness

    All month long, we’re sharing stories and information to help raise awareness for breast cancer. Today, we’re spotlighting Stand Up To Cancer – an organization whose mission is to research, educate, and help fund and develop new and promising cancer treatments. Not only do they know a lot about the many cancer types, but they know a lot about breast cancer, so they shared how to detect it, its different types, how often you should be examined, and much more.


    We know that as an organization Stand Up To Cancer helps to bring awareness and research to not just breast cancer, but to many cancer types. Can you tell us a little bit more about the overall mission of the organization and how impactful it has been over time?

    Stand Up To Cancer’s (SU2C) mission is to raise funds to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C has set out to generate awareness, educate the public on cancer prevention, and help more people diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors.

    The SU2C movement began in 2008, mandating collaboration among the cancer community, with its revolutionary “Dream Team” concept, uniting top researchers from different institutions to work together on promising new approaches and compete against cancer instead of against each other. Now in its second decade, SU2C continues to innovate across all aspects of cancer research, creating new models for research while continuing to build upon our foundation -- collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional teams in which early-career researchers and patient advocates are integrated in team design.

    With the help of people across the United States and Canada as well as corporate, philanthropic, and organizational donors, over $603 million has been pledged to date to support SU2C’s portfolio of innovative cancer research.

    The impact of SU2C is significant. In its first decade, SU2C research has contributed to the development of six new cancer therapies approved by the FDA, including two new treatments for breast cancer, and others for ovarian and pancreatic cancers and difficult-to-treat leukemia. Additional new treatments continue to undergo FDA review with promising results for colon, lung, and ovarian cancers, and for metastatic melanoma. And more, new treatments and technology are being developed by our teams, to bring new treatments to patients faster, working to make all cancer patients cancer survivors.

    In general, what are the different types of breast cancer? Can some of these types be hereditary?

    Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. This year, more than 268,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early cancer detection and improved treatment is helping more women diagnosed with breast cancer to survive.

    There are three primary types of breast cancer:

    · breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts that’s non-invasive or pre-invasive
    · invasive cancer that starts in the milk ducts; and
    · invasive cancer that starts in the milk-producing glands.

    There are other, less common, types of breast cancers.

    Researchers also focus on three primary subtypes of breast cancer. When you have a biopsy of your breast cancer tissue following your diagnosis, your doctor will look for the presence of certain proteins—most commonly, “estrogen receptor”, “progesterone receptor”, and “HER2”. Receptors are proteins that detect signals that tell the cells to grow. A positive result from a hormone receptor test means that receptor is present, whereas a negative result means that it is not. Knowing the receptor status of the cancer is extremely important in determining the best strategies to treat the cancer. The three subtypes are:

    · hormone receptor-positive
    · HER2-positive, and
    · triple-negative breast cancer

    Breast cancer can be hereditary, but only five-to-ten percent of all breast cancers cluster in families.These hereditary breast cancers are associated with genetic mutations, passed on from parents (mother or father) to child. Women who have a mother, sister, or daughter with a history of breast cancer are about twice as likely to develop breast cancer as women who do not have this family history.

    If I have inherited genetic mutations that increase my risk for breast cancer, what other cancers am I at risk for?

    When women inherit mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, these mutations are most commonly associated with a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, as well as other women’s cancers such as fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer. Men with these mutations are primarily at increased risk of developing breast and prostate cancers. Both men and women with harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are at increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

    BRCA1 mutations have also been linked to other cancers such as cervical, esophagus, liver, stomach, and uterine.[ix] There are additional mutations associated with increased risk for breast cancer, which also increases risk for other cancers. These mutations include: ATM; BARD1; CDH1; CHEK2; NBN; NF1; PALB2; PTEN; RAD51D; STK11; and TP53.

    When should someone begin screening for breast cancer, and how often should they be screened?

    It’s important for you to have routine screening, as recommended, because many women don’t experience any symptoms that might signal the presence of cancer. If you are at average risk of breast cancer, it’s recommended you start regular screening at age 45: 

    · 45-54: If you are at average risk with no known family history, you should undergo regular screening mammography starting at age 45 years and continue to be screened annually. 

    · 55+: If you are 55 years and older you should get screened every two years or have the opportunity to continue screening annually. As long as your overall health is good and you expect to live ten years or longer, you should continue routine screening mammograms every other year.

    Routine screening is so important, Stand Up To Cancer, in collaboration with Rally Health, launched a public service campaign called Stand Up and Pledge to help people find out which cancer screenings are recommended for them and pledge to get screened. At individuals can enter their age and gender to find out what screenings are right for them. As official screening recommendations change from time-to-time, is updated as needed so you can go back and check what the current recommendations are.

    Everyone should be familiar with what their breasts feel like, to know your breasts, know what your “normal” is. That way, you can check in with your doctor or health care provider if you notice something unusual.

    Can someone test at home for breast cancer? What should they be looking for?

    There’s no “at home” test to diagnose breast cancer. The FDA-approved at-home genetic testing service only tests for three of more than 1,000 known BRCA mutations. Therefore, a negative result would not rule out increased cancer risk.

    Current guidance suggests that primary care providers assess women with a personal or family history of breast, ovarian, tubal or peritoneal cancer or who have ancestry associated with increased risk for breast cancer with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. Women who receive a positive score on that assessment should receive genetic counseling. Your genetic counselor will recommend whether you should undergo genetic testing. [xiv] Before getting genetic testing, you may also want to confirm if your insurance will cover the test and counseling.

    What are some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, if there are any?

    There are a variety of signs and symptoms for breast cancer. Any of these should be checked out with your doctor. These may not actually indicate you have breast cancer, but they can also be a sign of other medical conditions that should be addressed.

    · A new lump or mass is the most common symptom of breast cancer. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be felt as a tender, soft, or rounded lump or mass. They can even be painful.
    · Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt).
    · Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
    · Breast or nipple pain
    · Nipple retraction (turning inward)
    · Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
    · Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
    · Lump or swelling under the arm or around the collar bone

    How fast does breast cancer spread typically?

    There is no “typical” pattern to how quickly breast cancer spreads, it affects each patient differently. In early stages, it may not spread at all. It’s always best to diagnose and treat cancer in the earliest possible stage before it spreads. Breast cancer that has already spread outside the breast, is more likely to spread further.

    Breast Cancer is typically thought of as primarily affecting women, but men can be affected too, correct?

    Men can also develop breast cancer, but it’s far less common in men. This year about 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men, compared to 268,000 women. Approximately 500 men will die from breast cancer in the US. 

    What is some advice you would give to those who find out they have breast cancer? Is there anything you might suggest for them to help feel better during this challenging time?

    Receiving any cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Stand Up To Cancer offers some tips and guidance:

    · It can be hard to remember and understand everything you’re told, so think about having someone with you to help listen for you or take notes. Ask your healthcare provider for explanations in writing. Ask if you might record your discussions with doctors so you can play them back and listen for details later, at home.
    · Join a support group if that suits your style, whether small or large group meetings, an online community, or even a community of patients with the same type of breast cancer. Patient and survivor groups allow individuals to share and compare experiences and may be the best “listeners” to your concerns.
    · Consider asking someone you trust to share periodic news with your larger circle of family and friends, such as test results or treatment plans.
    · Let your friends and family know what you need and support you with meals, rides, dog walks, and other forms of assistance as they want to be helpful during this difficult time. There are apps that help friends and family coordinate filling your needs or sharing information.
    · Ask your doctor about genetic testing and tumor profiling. Testing can help determine if you carry a mutation that increases your risk for breast, ovarian and other cancers. That information would be important if you have siblings, parents, and children. Ask about testing your tumor – it could help your doctor determine the most effective treatment, an approach called precision or targeted treatment.
    · Ask your hospital or healthcare provider about case management services, a nurse practitioner, or patient navigator to help you coordinate all the information you’ll be getting and scheduling all the appointments you’ll need.
    · Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for guidance on physical activity and diet. Maintaining general health is important for treatment outcomes. Research strongly suggests that moderate exercise is both safe and helpful during cancer treatment, not only improving physical functioning but general quality of life. Ask for information about food safety and how to maintain proper nutrition and hydration, as eating and drinking may be challenging during treatment. 
    · Most importantly, don’t forget to “be you,” and find ways to continue to participate in activities that are important or meaningful to you, even if at a reduced pace. They’ll help you hold onto your special essence, a piece of you that doesn’t always feel like a patient.

    1. Breast Cancer Awareness Month

      We collaborated with our friends at Stand Up To Cancer to derive this informational and educational-based content. The content on this site does not constitute medical advice. You should consult your doctor before beginning any treatment, exercise, training, or athletic program.

      Stand Up To Cancer’s (SU2C) mission is to raise funds to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C has set out to generate awareness, educate the public on cancer prevention, and help more people diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors.

      We're celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness month with some of our favorite pink shades.

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    Written by OPI -