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Women Fighting Back: In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Guest Post)

From the moment that you learn you are expecting, you immediately begin worrying about the health of your unborn child, and these worries don't go away once he or she is born. On the contrary, they increase as you remain alert to every sniffle and sneeze, and every ache and pain.

However, now is not the time to allow your own health to go by the wayside. It is easy to be so focused on your child that you forget about the importance of your own health and wellbeing, but it is actually doubly important that you remain healthy, so you can be the best mom that you can be to your little one.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here's a quick rundown on some cancers that regularly affect women, and what you can do to proactively fight these silent killers.

Breast Cancer

Every year, breast cancer affects nearly a quarter-million women, making it the most common cancer among women other than skin cancer. Sadly, this form of cancer claims nearly 40,000 lives every year, second only to lung cancer.

There are many factors that can contribute to breast cancer. Studies have shown that the use of oral contraceptives can increase your risk, as well as hormone therapy after menopause, being overweight or obese, and alcohol consumption. However, regular physical activity and breastfeeding lessen the likelihood of breast cancer. Additionally, regular self screening, and annual mammograms after the age of 40 (before then if you have a family or personal history of breast cancer) can aid in early detection, giving you a greater chance at being able to fight it and win.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer can strike at any age, and is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is spread through sexual contact. If you have HPV and it doesn't go away, or HIV or AIDS, your chances for developing cervical cancer increase. Additionally, smoking will increase your odds.

There aren't any specific symptoms for the presence of HPV, but regular Pap tests will detect the virus, and can make the difference in whether or not you develop cervical cancer. If abnormal cells are detected, your doctor will order a colposcopy, where they scrape your cervix with a small wire loop and examine the cells to determine whether they are cancerous or not. This is a relatively painless procedure, and is performed in your gynecologist's office. In the event that the cells are malignant, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can be used to treat. In extreme cases, a hysterectomy can be performed.

Renal Cell Cancer

Renal cell cancer is a lesser-known cancer that usually strikes women after the age of 55. Risk factors include smoking, misusing certain over-the-counter pain medications, obesity, high blood pressure and genetics. African Americans have a slightly higher risk of developing renal cell cancer, although it is unclear why this is.

Symptoms of this cancer include blood in the urine, an unexplained lump in your abdomen, pain in your side that doesn't go away, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and anemia. If you experience any of these symptoms, go to your doctor and request an examination of your abdomen and kidneys. Treatment includes radiation and chemotherapy, and in some cases, a kidney transplant may be in order.

Cancer is an unfortunate reality that shouldn't be ignored in the hopes that it will go away. With a proactive attitude and regular medical exams, you can be sure to maintain your health while being aware of what is going on in your body. The key is to never stop fighting for your health. Make yourself a priority — you’re worth it!

 

About the Author

This is a guest post written by Holly Watson, a stay at home wife and mom of 2 (soon to be 3) and an avid blogger and admin for www.eatbreatheblog.com.

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