Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Recognizing the signs should still be a priority amid COVID-19

October 1, 2020
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    With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, experts want to remind women and men that it is essential to recognize breast cancer signs, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    While our country continues to go through the global outbreak, experts tell Good Morning America that the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer has declined by half. According to recent research from JAMA, fewer people are visiting their doctors.

    "We're seeing a significant drop of screening and diagnosis of breast cancer in the whole U.S.," Dr. Larry Norton, the medical director of Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center and Norna S. Sarofim Chair in Clinical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering said. "And that means we'll probably see a tsunami of breast cancer when people come to medical facilities."

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 to 2013, Black women and white women get breast cancer at around the same rate. However, the death rate in Black women is higher than in white women. Compared to white women, there are much higher rates of breast cancer in Black women younger than 60 years old. The CDC reported that white women find breast cancer earlier than Black women, which further highlights disparities in access to health care, poverty and social justice, the outlet noted.

    Experts gave recommendations on how you can help reduce the risks of breast cancer:

    Know your family history
    It is essential to learn and know your family’s history. You should find out whether your father or mother’s side of the family has a history of breast cancer.
    Monitor exercise and diet
    "It's much better to eat a good diet, lots of fruits and vegetables, and limit your amount of animal proteins," according to Norton.
    Get tested regardless of your sex
    "Yes, men do get breast cancer," said Norton. "Most men present with a lump and a lot of men don't realize they get breast cancer and ignore the lump. Therefore, most men come with advanced cancers because they've ignored it for a long period of time."
    Look for changes during self-exams
    Modern advances in screening tests and images have become an important tool for evaluating breast cancer.

    Medical experts stress the benefits of early screening.

    "The reason to get screened is not just to save your life, the reason to get screened is because it's much easier to take care of," Norton said. "Don't wait until you have symptoms."

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