After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. The risk of a woman developing breast cancer in the U.S during her lifetime is 12 percent, which means that there is a one in eight chance that she will have to fight the disease, According to the National Cancer Institute.
For tennis phenom Serena Williams, breast cancer is an extremely important subject. Williams recently stepped out of her comfort zone by singing topless in a video to create awareness about breast cancer, and to remind women to regularly perform breast self-exams.
Williams recently posted the video on her Instagram account as a part of the I Touch Myself Project, an initiative launched in 2014 aimed to honor Chrissy Amphlett, the Divinyls lead singer, who passed away from breast cancer.
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Serena Williams in the #itouchmyselfproject
"Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world.” Williams wrote in the video’s caption. Williams urged women to put their health first and to do self-exams by touching themselves. “Early detection is key — it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that."
So what exactly is breast cancer? According to the CDC, breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer.
Metro spoke with Dr. Benjamin Pocock, director of Elmhurst NYC Health Breast Service Clinic, to learn more about breast cancer prevention.
How does a woman reduce the risks of getting breast cancer?
Dr. Pocock: There is no miracle prevention of breast cancer but there are general things you could do to reduce the risks like eating healthy food, exercise and to be careful with alcohol and smoking. Also having children and breastfeed help to reduce the risks.
When should she see a doctor?
Dr. Pocock: Women need to look out for lumps in the breast or near the armpit, blood from nipples or a rash on the skin of the breasts that won’t go away with normal treatments. If any of these signs show up, you should see a doctor.
Where can she get a mammogram?
Dr. Pocock: A mammogram is one of the easiest ways to catch breast-cancer early. NYC Health + Hospitals facilities and neighborhood health centers offer mammograms for both eligible and uninsured women for free. People need to be aware that breast cancer is not usually inherited, it happens randomly, and women need to be aware that everyone’s at risks.
Early detection is key in the fight against breast cancer
Dr. Pocock points out the importance for women to regularly see a doctor and get an examination, it’s different from case to case, but early detection can make cancer much more treatable.
Breast cancer survivor Mary Vetting agrees, telling Metro that she strongly encourages women to do their self-check, to regularly see their doctors and to always put their health as a priority.
“I personally think the sooner, the younger, the better. In my case, early detection saved my life.” Vetting said. “Women performing self-exams is something that needs to be widespread, believed and done.”
Breast cancer support
Share Cancer Support 844.ASK.SHARE or 844.275.7427 is a breast cancer helpline where you get to speak to a survivor or caregiver who’s been there. The helpline is open 24/7 and you can call them for support, guidance, and help.