Receiving regular breast cancer screenings is critical to early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. When it comes to testing for breast cancer there is far more you can do than just receive an annual mammography, though you should absolutely not stop doing that. Today we’ll be focusing on a different kind of breast cancer screen that can be used to supplement your mammogram: breast thermography.

Using Breast Thermography to Test for Breast CancerThermography, also known as thermal imaging, uses an infrared camera to measure the temperature of the skin on the breast’s surface. Thermography is based on two central ideas:

1.) Since cancer cells grow and multiply faster than healthy ones, blood flow and metabolism will be higher in a cancerous tumor.

2.) Skin temperature will rise as the blood flow and metabolism increase.

A breast thermograph uses ultra-sensitive cameras and computers to produce high-resolution images that can detect this potential increase in temperature.

Breast thermography is a non-invasive test that does not involve using radiation. It looks for clear abnormalities in one of the tested woman’s breast that do not appear on the other breast. The testing itself is typically quick (around 15 minutes). And unlike a mammogram, breast thermography is “non-compressive,” meaning the patients breasts will not be uncomfortably squeezed during testing.

You should not think of breast thermography as a replacement for a mammogram. Breast thermography is not able to detect breast cancer that is deeper in the breast tissue. Instead, thermography is best used as a way to supplement the results of your mammogram and help identify cancers that appear closer to the skin’s surface. Typically, the results of a thermograph test are used for record keeping as a baseline during future screenings. By combining breast thermography with regular mammograms and clinical exams, we believe women may have the greatest chance to spot and diagnose breast cancer when it is still in its early stages.

A woman’s breast cancer treatment options can be greatly increased by catching it early. While, breast thermography cannot diagnose breast cancer on its own, it has the potential to identify early warning signs and contribute to an early detection and diagnosis. For more information on breast cancer screening or to share your personal breast cancer story with the world, contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. And please follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for more breast cancer news and updates.

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New Guidelines Recommend Radiation for More Breast Cancer PatientsNew guidelines recently published by three of the nation’s leading cancer organizations have updated recommendations for women who have undergone a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. Within the new guidelines are a series of new factors for oncologists to consider when determining which patients might benefit from radiation therapy following their mastectomy. The three organizations responsible for the new guidelines are the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO).

The main takeaway from the updated guidelines is that experts now believe that there is strong evidence showing that radiation therapy after a mastectomy reduces the chances of breast cancer recurrence. Additionally, new research found that even women with smaller tumors and minimal lymph node involvement can benefit greatly from receiving radiation. In the past, radiation was more commonly recommended for women with four or more lymph nodes affected by breast cancer.

Other relevant findings and recommendations found within the updated guidelines include:

  • When deciding whether or not to receive radiation treatment, women should consult with their entire medical team. This may include the oncologist, breast cancer surgeon and a radiation specialist.
  • Radiation therapy is recommended for women with stage 1 or stage 2 breast cancer who have undergone chemotherapy prior to a mastectomy if there are still positive lymph nodes following chemotherapy.
  • Doctors should consider factors unique to each patient before making recommendations on radiation therapy including:
    • The patient’s age
    • Chances of recurrence
    • The stage of the patient’s breast cancer
    • How many lymph nodes are affected
    • Other medical conditions that could reduce a woman’s life expectancy or increase the risk of side effects

We recommend for any patient who is planning on having mastectomy, or patients who have recently undergone a mastectomy, to speak to your oncologist about these updated guidelines. If your doctor says that you do not require radiation following your mastectomy, you should follow-up and confirm that the radiation specialist was part of the decision-making process.

Choosing your breast cancer treatment is a big decision and one that should not be made without doing extensive research first. Hopefully these new guidelines will help direct you to the breast cancer treatment that will be of most benefit to your condition. If you are interested in learning more about radiation therapy and other breast cancer treatment options, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube for more news and updates.

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A battle with breast cancer can be a frightening, alienating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Though it may be intimidating, we at PRSF believe in the value of storytelling. Sharing your experiences, whether they relate to your breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, or whatever else, often helps both the storyteller and the listener through the healing powers of “narrative medicine.”

Every person has a unique breast cancer experience, which means everyone has their own breast cancer story. By sharing these unique stories, we can spread the positive impact of bonding with those similarly afflicted and help tackle breast cancer together as a united family. Thankfully, the ambassadors at PRSF are here to explain how sharing your breast cancer story can do wonders for you and the people in your life:

I Had No Other Way to Deal with it: PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Laura C.

“I had no other way to deal with it but to tell everybody what I was going through. People were really kind to listen to me and just let me talk. A lot of times when you talk people feel like they have to help you or fix you. I didn’t need that. I just needed to be able to talk about it. Everybody is walking the same path, but they’re just on different parts. And sometimes you meet up and sometimes you don’t. You can find a breast cancer survivor and relate to them in some way. Whether you had the same surgery or the same drugs, it’s more about what you felt than what you did. It’s a sisterhood.”

We understand that expressing your emotions to others doesn’t come naturally to everyone, especially during such a scary, tumultuous time. Even just putting your feelings into a daily log or journal can go a long way towards lifting some of the burden of breast cancer off of your back. PRSF ambassador Donna C. explains the power of sharing your breast cancer story with the world:

Write Down the Positives, the Blessings: PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Donna C.

“You have to look at the good things that came out of it. You cannot focus on the negative things. I started journaling early on when I was diagnosed. Every time I would journal I would write down about that particular incident or day; the positives, the blessings. You can find something positive in anything. And if you keep that attitude I think you can survive anything.”

Whether you’re speaking to a group of fellow breast cancer patients, having a heart-to-heart with a friend or loved one, or simply writing an entry into your journal, getting your feelings off your chest can provide immense relief. Building and accepting breast cancer support is a crucial part of any breast cancer journey, and sharing yourself and your unique experience with the world is an excellent way to build your support group and put something positive into the world. If you are interested in sharing your story and becoming one of our breast cancer ambassadors, contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today.

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The Power of Spirituality during Breast CancerSpirituality can mean different things to different people. Faith or spirituality doesn’t necessarily equate to religion. Some of the ambassadors at Pink Ribbon Story Foundation (PRSF) believe that there is a link between spirituality and cancer. A solid belief structure can have immense benefits during breast cancer treatment and recovery, regardless of which form one’s spirituality takes. We’ve seen many women who have even thought their breast cancer diagnosis allowed them to have a new appreciation for life and a fresh perspective on the simple things that fill every day.

Faith can be a powerful tool. Maintaining a belief in some form of higher power can help keep your spirits high and your outlook positive while coping with breast cancer. It can also do wonders to alleviate breast cancer-related stress and anxiety. We’d like to share the stories of two of our ambassadors at PRSF who experienced firsthand the profound effects of spirituality during their fight with breast cancer:

I have a very strong faith. That is truly what got me through: PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Lisa W.

“I found a large lump on my breast and went in and had it checked. Got a phone call, the worst ever, saying that it was cancerous and it was the size of a Snickers bar. I literally fell apart. That night I went to bed and I was so angry and I told the Lord ‘I have a very strong faith that I can’t do this without you.’ Faith is a hard thing to explain, but that is truly what got me through.”

Your spirituality can have just as profound an effect after you beat breast cancer as it does during your treatment. PRSF ambassador Beth T. explains how beating breast cancer changed her perspective:

I think I’m more blessed and empathetic: PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Beth T.

“I don’t know that I feel stronger. I think I’m more blessed and I’m more aware and empathetic to everyone, in all kinds of situations. Anybody can go through this cancer and survive it, but to appreciate what it does for you afterwards and the need to help others going through it is still strong in me right now.”

Every woman’s spirituality and how it relates to her breast cancer journey is unique and personal. Even if you’re not spiritual or religious, there is still value in maintaining a positive outlook during and after your breast cancer diagnosis. The mind’s influence over the body can be an incredibly powerful thing. If you have questions about breast cancer or if you are interested in becoming one of our breast cancer ambassadors, contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today.

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Keeping Up with New Developments in Breast Cancer ResearchOne of the main reasons we tell patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to stay optimistic is the amazing amount of breast cancer research being done at all times. Doctors, scientists and experts from all over the world work tirelessly to try to find a cure, but also to find out what actually causes breast cancer and what people can do to try to prevent developing breast cancer in the first place. That’s why we wanted to share a few recent developments in breast cancer research that we found particularly interesting.

Studies

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is funding a long-term study to help find the causes of breast cancer and take a more comprehensive look at the impacts of a family history of breast cancer. This study, which they have dubbed the Sister Study, has currently enrolled 50,000 women who have sisters with breast cancer. The idea is to follow these women for at least 10 years to collect information about certain genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors and how they may lead to breast cancer.

Clinical Trials

There are a number of clinical trials that are currently looking at existing drugs and dietary supplements to see if they can aid in breast cancer reduction. Some of the drugs studied and reviewed include drugs that are used to treat osteoporosis, anti-inflammatory drugs, and statins that are used for patients with high cholesterol. Certain dietary supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and D are also being studied in the hopes that they may have the ability to help reduce breast cancer risk.

Breast Cancer Screening

Lastly, we wanted to mention a new development in breast cancer screening. Unlike a conventional mammogram, three-dimensional mammography creates a 3D picture of the breast using many low-dose images from different angles around the breast. Though it may not be the industry standard yet, three-dimensional mammography is now approved by the FDA and is quickly gaining steam in the medical community. Roughly half of all facilities in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium now offer 3-D mammograms.

We hope this has been promising news. Every day breast cancer research brings us closer to the answers needed to effectively fight and defeat breast cancer once and for all. For more information on breast cancer developments from around the world, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more breast cancer tips and news.

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For any woman who has successfully beaten breast cancer, hearing the words “remission” or “cancer-free” for the first time can provide relief beyond words. A battle with breast cancer is often an arduous, exhausting challenge that requires every ounce of your strength (both mental and physical) to conquer. And while it’s understandable that breast cancer may be the last thing you may want to think about after overcoming such a massive obstacle, there can be immense satisfaction in giving back.

How You Can Give Back after Breast CancerIf you’ve been through breast cancer, then you know firsthand about the fear and anxiety that comes with a positive diagnosis. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the strength, support system or financial means to endure a battle with breast cancer. This is where you can help.

Giving back can take many forms. There are obviously a large number of charitable organizations that do incredible work assisting breast cancer patients and their families. A breast cancer donation can contribute to making someone else’s life easier during their diagnosis and treatment, as well as aiding and supporting overall awareness and research on potential new breast cancer treatment options. Regardless of the amount you are able to donate, every little bit helps.

A financial donation is just one of the ways for breast cancer survivors to pay it forward. Volunteering your time is another excellent way to help out and make a difference in someone’s life. There are clinical trials available for breast cancer survivors. Some of these trials study the long-term effects of breast cancer treatments to help measure their effectiveness. Others study various aspects of different treatments including quality of life for patients after treatment and the benefits of combining treatments.

Sharing the value of breast cancer storytelling is another vital way to give back after breast cancer. While everyone’s own breast cancer experience is unique, there is a kinship that can be developed from two people bonding over a common struggle. By sharing your story, you can help inspire someone similarly afflicted and contribute to their fight. Here at Pink Ribbon Story Foundation, our ambassadors and their families take pride in sharing their stories in an effort to provide their support for the breast cancer community.

These are just a few of the ways we recommend giving back, but feel free to get creative. Regardless of how you choose to offer support, you can make a difference for other people living with breast cancer and their families. If you want to learn how you can give back after breast cancer, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more stories and insights on the breast cancer community.

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How Diet in Your Youth Can Affect Your Breast Cancer RiskToday it is estimated that roughly one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. There are a considerable number of factors that can affect a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. These include a wide array of thing including genetics, a family history of breast cancer, simple lifestyle choices and more. Though historically research hasn’t found a direct link between a person’s diet and breast cancer risk, breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is plant-based and lower in fat.

A recent study takes the correlation a step further. Research conducted at the University of California Los Angeles suggests that young women who eat a less healthy, more inflammatory diet during puberty may indeed have a higher risk of developing breast cancer as they age. This is believed to be true for women who don’t necessarily become overweight or obese as well as the ones that do. They found women who ate the most unhealthy diets, heavy in sugar (including sodas and sweets) and red meat, were more than 30% more likely to develop breast cancer as they entered their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s.

With this in mind, the breast cancer experts at Pink Ribbon Story Foundation have put together a list of low-fat diet recommendations to help women stay healthy and avoid a breast cancer diagnosis as they age:

  • Try non-fat dairy products (like skim milk) as opposed to overly fatty whole milk.
  • Substitute sugary snacks like chips or sweets out for healthier ones like fruit, veggies, almonds or low-sugar yogurt.
  • Choose your proteins wisely; try to avoid processed red meats in favor of leaner cuts of chicken or fish.
  • Don’t be afraid to substitute regular pork bacon out for leaner turkey bacon or pork sausage out for chicken sausage.
  • Eat less salad dressing when eating salad, or substitute your normal dressing out for a low-fat alternative.

When it comes to breast cancer, prevention is crucial. And by posting these tips, we hope that we are able to help as many women as possible potentially prevent themselves from developing breast cancer in the future. If you have additional questions about breast cancer or if you want to share your personal breast cancer story with the world, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more tips and updates.

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We’ve all heard of the dreaded breast lump. An unknown or mysterious lump that appears on or around a woman’s breast is the most famous sign of a potential breast cancer diagnosis and should be reported to a healthcare specialist at once. However, there are several other early indicators of potential breast cancer.

Knowing the Common Signs of Breast CancerThere are a number of changes that affect the way a woman’s breast looks and feels that can serve as warning signs of breast cancer. The more aware of these warning signs women are, the more likely they are to notice something irregular during a self-examination or bring them up during a breast cancer screening appointment. This is obviously very important, since the earlier breast cancer is noticed and reported, the greater the chances of treating it before it can grow or spread.

We highly recommend speaking to your healthcare provider at once if you begin to experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms:

  • Tenderness, sensitivity or thickening on or near the breast, breast or underarm
  • Skin texture of the breast becoming red, itchy, scaly or tougher (similar to an orange peel)
  • Any unexplained changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Any new, unexplained dimpling of the breast
  • Any random swelling of the breast, especially if it only occurs on one side only
  • Previously unseen asymmetry of the breasts
  • A slightly inward-turned or inverted nipple
  • A nipple discharge that occurs when a woman is not breastfeeding

For most women, experiencing any of these symptoms will not mean a positive breast cancer diagnosis. However, when dealing with the possible threat of breast cancer, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The sooner you visit your healthcare provider, the sooner you can stop worrying about what a potential change to your breast might mean. And in the case that it does indicate breast cancer, it is certainly best to recognize this as soon as possible. For more information about breast cancer, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news and updates.

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Receiving a positive breast cancer diagnosis can be immensely challenging. From weighing options like chemotherapy treatments or trying to decide if breast reconstruction surgery is right for you, these decisions can be overwhelming. This is as true for the loved ones of a diagnosed patient as it is for the patient herself. A mother is often the center of her family’s universe, so such a drastic, life-altering change can send shockwaves through an entire family. As a mother, it’s only natural to want to ease your children’s fears and anxieties in regards to your condition.

How to Cope with Breast Cancer as a MotherAfter your diagnosis, you may feel that your relationship with your kids has changed. Kids can respond to this kind of news in a variety of ways depending on their age and personality. This could mean young children become clingy or teenagers becoming more distant, or vice versa. There is also the added fear for a daughter’s risk of developing breast cancer, if there was not a previous family history of breast cancer. All of this makes it especially important to keep your kids in the loop in regards to your breast cancer and treatment. Communication can go a long way towards alleviating your kid’s concerns and making them feel helpful and involved.

To help you better understand how to better cope with breast cancer as a mother, we have invited some of our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassadors to share their first-hand experience of how their personal breast cancer battle affected their family life:

“I hope that this has been a beneficial experience for my daughter.  I can remind her to make sure you go for your check-up.”

PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Deannie E.

“There are good things about having cancer. That’s odd to say, but developing that deeper empathy. I think, I hope, this has been a beneficial experience for my daughter. Because like most young people she thinks she’s immortal and I can remind her to please make sure you go for your check-up.”

“Get information because children will have a lot of questions and they want answers and they want to know that they can get the honest answers from you.”

PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Randi S.

“I got some very good advice from a friend of mine who is a pediatrician before I spoke to my children, which I was glad I did. And she said, get information because children, particularly older children, will have a lot of questions and they want answers. And they want to know that they can get the honest answers from you.”

Try to stay positive during your treatment. Keep in mind that there will be a time when you are able to become more involved in normal day-to-day stuff again. Make a point to regularly talk with your kids about your breast cancer experience, even after your treatment has concluded. Kids are often more comfortable when they know what’s going on and what to expect. For more information on how to cope with your breast cancer diagnosis, please contact the Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more breast cancer videos, news and updates.

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Each year in the US, over 11,000 women under age 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. For women in this age group, it’s important to realize that there can be a connection between breast cancer and fertility. A positive breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming enough without having to wonder how your condition can potentially prevent you from becoming pregnant.

How and if a specific patient’s ability to become pregnant may be affected by breast cancer depends on a number of factors. These include the patient’s age, what breast cancer treatments the patient plans to undergo and the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. That’s why it is so important to speak with your doctor about fertility and having children when discussing your breast cancer treatment options.

To help put this in perspective, we invited several of our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassadors to share their own personal experiences with how breast cancer affected their fertility.

It’s important to remember that having breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot become pregnant in the future. There is a chance your fertility ultimately won’t be affected, but it’s better to do the research and be prepared should you have to make these kinds of choices during your treatment. The more informed you are now, the less overwhelming this can all be when it’s time to make a decision. For information on breast cancer and breast cancer awareness, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can allow follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more breast cancer tips, news and updates. If you are interested in sharing you or your loved ones breast cancer experience with the world, inquire about becoming a Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassador.

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