Today is the last day of October. More importantly it is the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness month. But is a topic that we are reminded of throughout the year.

Breast cancer does not discriminate. It can affect mothers, fathers, husbands, sons, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. When it attacks a family member, the entire family is affected.

The majority, if not all, of us know someone that has battled this disease that affects an estimated 220,000 women across the United States each year. It is also estimated that 40,000 will die from it each year.

It’s a very depressing thought that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The positive side is that early detection of breast cancer is getting better yearly with better technology.

In the United States today, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors due to early detection. There are a number of things you can watch for to help this. The list of 5 items below is from

1. Dimpling of the skin: Though the most obvious sign of breast cancer is the appearance of a lump (a tumor), there are several other signs that can be an indication of this disease. Changes in the appearance of the skin is one of the signs of breast cancer; particularly dimpling of the skin. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most common form of breast cancer that causes dimpled skin.

2. Changes shape and size of the breast: Another sign of breast cancer is changes in the shape and size of the affected breast. In the beginning stages of cancer, the changes may be subtle and unnoticeable, so many women may not realize that they have breast cancer until the change in the shape and size become noticeable. Additionally, women’s breast naturally differ in shape and size; that is, they aren’t symmetrical.

3. Sudden nipple discharge: When a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, nipple discharge is normal and expected. However, if a woman experiences sudden discharge when she is not pregnant or breastfeeding, it could be a cause for concern. There are many conditions that can cause nipple discharge, and not all are related to cancer. For example, fibrocystic changes can result in discharge, as can a papilloma, which is a benign (noncancerous) tumor.

4. Retraction of the nipple: Nipple retraction, also known as nipple inversion or an inverted nipple, refers to a nipple turns inward toward the breast. Normally, a breast, the nipple will point outward; however, when a nipple points inward, it could be a sign of breast cancer. An inverted nipple is not always related to cancer. It could be caused by scarring or inflammation of the tissue that is located behind the nipple, which can be caused by several conditions.

5. Swelling under the arm: Though a lump is one of the most obvious signs of breast cancer, in some cases, a lump may not be able to felt in the breast, but rather underneath the arm. If you notice a lump in your armpit, it could be an indication that you have breast cancer. There are several lymph nodes located throughout the body, including the armpits.

Living through any form of cancer is difficult. Watch for early signs of the disease, and if by chance you get breast cancer, try to stay as upbeat as you can. That is what you have control of. Lean on those that love you. Accept their help and support. Be strong, and by being strong, you can beat it.

“Once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.” – Melissa Etheridge

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