October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It would be remiss of us to not support the fight against breast cancer by raising awareness about this sometimes deadly and emotionally devastating disease. So here it is: 3 facts to help increase breast cancer awareness.
Breast Cancer is not just a cisgender women’s issue.
Most resources, advocacy and research on breast cancer focus on cisgender women. Comparatively there is a dearth of resources and research about breast cancer in transgender and gender nonconforming people as well as cisgender men. No matter one’s chromosomal, hormonal or genital configuration, everyone has breast tissue. And since breast cancer is cancer that begins in breast tissue, everyone, regardless of their gender is susceptible to it. That said, cisgender women do make up the majority of breast cancer cases in the United States, with cisgender men accounting for less than 1 percent according to the American Cancer Society’s 2017-2018 Report. And while there have been cases of breast cancer among transgender women and men, we have yet to come across statistical data for those demographics.
Breast cancer is not one singular disease.
There are two categories of breast cancer. There’s in situ (stage 0 breast cancer) and invasive. In situ breast cancer refers to abnormal cells that line the breast ducts or grow within the breast lobules. These cells stay put, do not spread farther than these areas, and tend not to be lethal. Invasive breast cancer occurs when the abnormal cells break past the ducts and lobules and spread to the surrounding breast tissue. It can turn lethal if these cells become metastatic. There are 21 histological subtypes and at least 4 molecular subtypes of invasive breast cancer. These types do not behave in a uniform way; they present differently, respond to treatment differently and have different outcomes.
Detection can be complicated.
Remember what was said earlier about breast cancer not being a single disease? Well diversity in type and behavior can make detection complicated. Sometimes the disease is palpable and detectable in a self breast or chest exam. Sometimes a mammogram is needed to detect it. Sometimes a mammogram is not enough and other tests are required. In our list of resources, you can find some screening guidelines and information.
While the American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly self breast exams for all girls and women, the organization understands that knowing our bodies is an integral part of our general health and well being. So no matter your gender familiarize yourself with your breasts/chests. Look at them. Touch them. Play with them if you like. Share any changes and concerns with your healthcare provider.
Interested in purchasing a toy in support of Breast Cancer Awareness? Our 2016 Breast Cancer Awareness Month Post Highlights CalExotic’s Inspire Toy Line which donates to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. If you are local, the DC Center is hosting a Trans Breast Cancer Awareness Workshop this November. You can delve deeper into understanding breast cancer by checking out these resources:
American Cancer Society’s 2017-2018 Breast Cancer Report - offers screening guidelines and statistical data