National Breast Cancer Awareness Month began at American River College with the most recent College Hour, which focused on breast cancer awareness and prevention, hosted by ARC Health Center nurse Michele Arnot on Oct. 1.
Health professionals still do not have a solid understanding of the risk factors of breast cancer, but some health officials say that five to 10 percent of cases suggest that the cause is hereditary, Arnot explained.
According to Arnot, 20 percent of lumps on the breast are actually cancerous, and the other 80 percent are usually caused by hormone changes and other factors that are not cancer-related.
Studies have shown that white women have a higher chance of getting breast cancer than any other race, but African American women die more often, Arnot said. This is thought to be because of the aggressiveness of the tumors that African American women suffer from.
Risk factors discussed in the lecture include having children past the age of 35, consuming too much alcohol, breastfeeding, beginning puberty before the age of 12, and beginning menopause before the age of 55.
Arnot stressed the importance of women holding themselves accountable for self-examination as well as knowing the warning signs of breast cancer, saying that knowing the look and feel of your breasts during different stages of growth and during menstrual cycles can improve your ability to catch any abnormalities early on.
English professor Amanda Corcoran, who attended the lecture, said that Arnot’s message of accountability for one’s own care stuck out to her.
“(The lecture) reinforced to me the importance of self-care and self-advocacy in terms of health care and doctor-patient relationships.”
ARC student Victoria Liochii felt the lecture gave her an opportunity to discuss her concerns with a Registered Nurse (RN) outside of a typical doctor’s office setting.
“I found lots of help from the presentation.” Liochii said. “They were able to answer questions that I had concerning myself.”
Breast cancer awareness has been increasing in recent years, with help from foundations like Susan G. Komen, countless nonprofits and professional sports organizations, who various marathons, fundraisers and pink ribbon campaigns have increased the visibility of the cause.
Arnot notes that support for the cause continues to grow.
“I think (breast cancer awareness) has been growing well over the years and there is more support from people every year,” Arnot said.