Frequently Asked Questions

✻Is Pink for October part of other recognized breast cancer sites and organizations?

✻Will I find medical information and advice on this site?

✻What is Breast Cancer?

✻What is a BSE or Breast Self Exam?

✻What is a Mammogram?

✻Can I wear deodorant or talcum powder when I have a mammogram?

✻Is breast cancer curable?

✻If I have breast cancer will I automatically lose my breast?

✻I’ve heard about a Sentinel Node Biopsy, what is that?

✻What happens if any of the sentinel nodes are affected?

✻Someone I know had breast cancer and then she had breast cancer in her bones. Is this a different cancer?

✻Are alternative treatments better than traditional chemotherapy and/or radiation?

Is Pink for October part of other recognized breast cancer sites and organizations?
No, Pink for October is a privately run website intended to offer information and support. Pink for October is about bringing awareness to others in support of breast cancer and the main thrust is to turn the internet pink in October, encouraging bloggers, website owners and others who use social media pink to spread the word and the awareness.

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Will I find medical information and advice on this site?
No doctor is involved with Pink for October and no administrative member of this site is permitted to give medical advice or opinions.

The opinions and experiences shared on Pink for October are from breast cancer survivors who have knowledge they have gleaned personally that offers insight into the disease.

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What is Breast Cancer?
When we talk about breast cancer as a subject it is generally in terms of an umbrella that covers a wide range of types of breast cancer. Cancer of the breast is diagnosed as different types which are dependent upon what part of the breast is affected. There are cancers of the ducts, the lobules, the medulla, tubular breast cancer, colloid (mucous) cancer and inflammatory breast cancer. Some cancers are in situ which means they are simply in that one place and others are infiltrating which means the cancer cells will spread beyond the point of origin. IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) is the most common type of breast cancer.

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in the body change and become malignant. It happens to men as well as women, although the percentage of men who develop breast cancer is significantly less than that of women.

Each type of breast cancer presents differently. Some can be seen as in IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) where the breast swells and turns red. Some affect the outer appearance of the breast and the nipple where there might be puckering (like an orange), nipple inversion, nipple discharge or a change in the shape of the breast.

Most breast cancers cannot be seen, although some can be felt, especially those that are closer to the surface of the skin.

This is where knowing your body becomes important to your awareness and your well being. Every woman should know the contours of her body and be able to recognize changes as they occur. Just as we do with moles and changes to our skin, it is important to be aware of how we feel to the touch and how we look when viewed in the mirror.

Every young woman who has begun to menstruate is advised to become familiar with her breasts and to begin performing breast self exams each month. Is there an age where it is too young to begin this practice? I dont believe so. Breast cancer is manifesting itself in younger women more than ever before. I have heard of women as young as 16 being diagnosed. It may be rare, but it does happen. Because many breast cancers are fed by hormones, it seems prudent to me that as soon as our hormones begin to surge through our bodies, it is in our best interest to be aware of the changes than can occur.

Breast self exams done each month help us to recognize when something feels different. That might be a lump or a swelling or tenderness. If you notice ANY change, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, it is best to have it checked by a doctor.

Knowing your body, listening to your instincts and your inner voice is your best form of offense in any health situation. Our minds and our physical bodies work together and do communicate. If we are aware of our bodies and our cycles, our moods and our overall well being, we know when our bodies need attention. Listen to that inner voice. Dont try and ignore it or talk it down. Be your own best advocate.

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What is a BSE or Breast Self Exam?
While there are many online resources available for performing a breast self-exam I found the easiest to follow was posted on About.com. Being a visual person I always appreciate the use of images in combination with brief explanations and site provides both. You may have to navigate a few small ad links but a picture is worth a thousand words in my book, so I would avoid the lengthier wordy explanation on Web MD, Susan G. Koman, or BreastCancer.org.

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What is a Mammogram?
While researching this subject we found numerous websites offering up anything for a few brief words to books of information. The most information online resources was offered through RadiologyInfo.org. There they featured ten of the most commonly asked questions, provided just enough information and included a sampling of images when available. I think you’ll find this a wonderful resource to help understand the process and maybe even put a few nervous feelings to ease too.

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Can I wear deodorant or talcum powder when I have a mammogram?
No. If you wear either of these it will cloud the image and give an incorrect reading. Arrive without wearing any deodorant or talcum powder; bring some with you so that you can apply it after the mammogram. If you have forgotten and put it on while getting dressed for the day, the exam rooms provide wipes for you to remove it and will have signs posted reminding you to do so.

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Is breast cancer curable?
No, it is not. Breast cancer, as with other cancers is not curable. Breast cancer (as with many other types of cancer) can be treated, managed and the patient would then be in remission. Changes to treatment, better awareness and earlier detection mean that many cancers can be stopped in their tracks, but there is no cure for breast cancer.

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If I have breast cancer will I automatically lose my breast?
This depends on the type of breast cancer and the location of the breast cancer. Doctors now prefer to save the breast wherever it is possible and medically safe to do so. Many patients are able to undergo a lumpectomy which is removal of the tumour and enough tissue around the tumour to give clear margins. A mastectomy would be done if there was no possibility of conserving the breast or not doing so would further endanger the patient�s life.

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I’ve heard about a Sentinel Node Biopsy, what is that?
A Sentinel Node Biopsy (SNB) is performed at the time of the surgery to remove the tumour (and the breast where indicated). This procedure is done a few days before the surgery. A dye is injected into the breast which �lights� the sentinel nodes leading into the armpit. The sentinel nodes are the first four nodes of the lymphatic system under the arm. If any of these are �highlighted� it means that cancer cells are present at the entry way. This procedure is done at the same time as the surgery in order to determine whether or not next steps are necessary.

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What happens if any of the sentinel nodes are affected?
If this happens, a further surgery would be perfumed, a few weeks after the initial lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is called an auxiliary dissection and further nodes are taken from the under the arms and sent for testing. As well, scans would be ordered to check to see if cells had already been in the lymphatic system and travelled to other parts of the body.

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Someone I know had breast cancer and then she had breast cancer in her bones. Is this a different cancer?
No, while the cancer may be present in the bones, brain, lungs, liver etc., this is now called metastatic breast cancer which has traveled or �metastasized� to another area in the body and is still considered to be the primary cancer…breast cancer.

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Are alternative treatments better than traditional chemotherapy and/or radiation?
Alternative (Holistic/naturopathic) treatments and traditional treatments are different which does not mean one or the other is better. It�s like comparing apples and oranges.

This is a question only the person diagnosed can decide along with trusted medical advice and information. Many breast cancer patients are coming to prefer a combination of treatments that include traditional standard treatment of chemotherapy and radiation as well as complementary (yoga, reiki, etc.) approaches.

It is any patient�s responsibility to be informed and educated about treatments, side effects and their individual pathology (the scientific breakdown of the type of cancer). If in doubt, second opinions are often helpful. No good doctor will ever deny a patient the right and the opportunity to have a second opinion.