October is national breast cancer month. Although it is rare to have breast cancer when you’re less than 40 years old, it’s still important to understand what it is—you may know someone who has breast cancer, you may be curious, and you may want to educate yourself and others. Breast cancer occurs when abnormal, sometimes harmful cells divide and grow in the breast tissue, grouping together and forming a mass or a lump. These cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body, so it is important to stop this growth before it spreads.
Certain factors may make women more susceptible to contracting breast cancer, such as family history, age, and diet and lifestyle choices. The best lifestyle choices you can make are to avoid smoking, high-fat diets, and alcohol while exercising regularly. Despite taking all these precautions, one’s family history and age may cause a woman to get breast cancer regardless of a healthy lifestyle.
Regular breast examinations help women identify any inconsistencies in their breasts. If you feel a lump—don’t panic—consult your doctor because sometimes lumps are benign and there is nothing to worry about. If breast cancer is diagnosed, women have several treatment regimens: lumpectomies, mastectomies, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Treatments will vary depending on the severity and location of cancerous cells. Survival rates for women with breast cancer continue to improve as research and technology grows with clinicians’ understanding of this cancer. Educating yourself and your loved ones is the best preventative defense against breast cancer. Learn more here!
The Oncofertility Summer Academy (OSA) founded in Dr. Teresa Woodruff’s lab in Chicago has expanded to other schools around the country! OSA students in California flew in to attend Northwestern University’s global Oncofertility Consortium Conference held here annually. Students were able to attend a full day of the conference, listened to lectures from global oncofertility researchers, presented their own scientific research posters, networked with leading clinicians, and even met patients who had preserved their fertility during cancer treatment. The students wrote about their own experiences at the conference and I hope you check them out!