LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says breast cancer awareness?
Some might say, the iconic pink ribbon. Others might think back to the pink gloves National Football League players wear on game days throughout the month of October.
In reality, these efforts bring attention to one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.
About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Some women are more likely to develop breast cancer over others due to various risk factors.
“Some individuals may have more frequent checkups than others based on family history, personal history, ethnicity and genetics, just to name a few,” said Ray Torres, 47th Medical Operations Squadron health promotion coordinator. “From self-examinations to ensuring you attend regular mammograms, it is important to catch it as soon as possible.”
Torres recommends, the best defense against breast cancer is getting ahead of the power curve and detecting it as soon as symptoms begin emerging. Although there is no known way to prevent breast cancer entirely, you can reduce your risk drastically by avoiding factors such as drinking alcohol, lack of exercise and smoking.
“Early detection of any cancer, specifically breast cancer, is vital,” Torres said. “Success rates of beating breast cancer increases dramatically the sooner you detect it.
The 47th Medical Group and Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio, have great working relationships when it comes to patient care, said Torres. Health Promotion collaborates with downtown agencies in issues related to breast cancer and other areas of health and wellness.
“The VVRMC has an awesome radiology department that always attends our annual [breast cancer] luncheon,” he said. “Their active participation shows that they are here to help.”
For Torres, the relationship that has been cultivated with community organizations plays a critical role in ensuring adequate resources are available to anyone diagnosed with this disease.
Although breast cancer is more commonly found in women, less than one percent of breast cancer cases develop in men. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, even though there are less than 2,200 male cases per year, men should still look for signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
“Just like any cancer, breast cancer doesn’t just affect a person” said Torres. “It affects people and groups. Whether that ‘group’ is your family, friends, co-workers, or a combination of all, it really affects many people involved.”
Torres emphasized the importance of one knowing how to self-examine, as a method to detect early signs associated with this cancer. He also highlighted the value of knowing where resources are located.
“Members can stop by the HP office to speak to the HP coordinator regarding material to better understand what information is out regarding breast cancer,” Torres said. “There is also a special icon on each base computer titled ‘Laughlin Help’ that [serves as] a resource locator for various topics, to include who you could contact for medical issues, such as breast cancer.”
No one at Laughlin or in the Del Rio community, Torres firmly states, should ever feel alone in their fight against breast cancer.
This commonly known disease, caused by damage to a cell’s DNA affects more than 300,000 women and men alike, annually. Knowing the risks, taking preventative care and planning ahead is the key to supporting those who have been diagnosed or have emerging symptoms.