October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and what better way to promote awareness than by blogging about exciting new research on the topic! Much progress has been made by the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), led by Dr. Caroline H. Dilworth, which is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute. BCERP seeks to explore both environmental and genetic factors associated with breast cancer risk over the course of the female lifespan. Regarding the aforementioned environmental factors, BCERP analyzes exposure to various elements during specific periods during the lifespan (known as “windows of susceptibility”) such as during puberty or pregnancy. Certain factors may be highly correlated with breast cancer developing during one period of life whereas it may be relatively benign during another. Determining these environmental factors and gaining more information about them will be key in breast cancer prevention.
Furthermore, BCERP has recently launched a new initiative along with the National Institute of Health (NIH). This phase of the research focuses on risk factors (such as breast density), and it expands the scope of participants to include more racially and ethnically diverse groups of women. Including socio-economically disadvantaged women and women from minority groups is crucial for gaining a broadened perspective. The research will be conducted at seven different centers across the country, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University, and Columbia University, just down the road from Revitalize Physical Therapy!
Many breakthroughs and much progress are yet to be made. Fortunately, the path is being paved in the proper direction, and research is focusing on key areas which will hopefully lead to a significant amount of prevention. Until then, it is of course important to perform monthly breast self-examinations (instructions here) and yearly mammograms starting at age forty.
Breast cancer survivors who have undergone surgeries that involve axillary lymph node removal may experience lymphedema, swelling of the upper extremity. Manual lymphatic drainage, a component of complete decongestive therapy, is an appropriate intervention to reduce swelling. If you or someone that you know stand to benefit from this treatment, please contact us at Revitalize Physical Therapy. We look forward to the opportunity to help you!