Breast Cancer and our seniors
It is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I would like to help in anyway I can. Breast cancer is one of the most significant causes of mortality in the senior population. It is the most common cause of death among women in the world. The risk of breast cancer increases with age. One-third of women aged 70 years and older are the most. Most older women fail to receive adequate treatment for breast cancer as compared to their younger counterparts. Dealing with this can cause strain on you, as the caregiver. This can affect your personal and work life as well.
Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer is very rare but recently has been showing up. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer. Men do have higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment. The signs and symptoms are pretty much the same for both men and women.
Breast Cancer and the caregiver
It can be difficult to attend to your loved one with breast cancer, but it’s not impossible. With the right knowledge, you can do this. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself and keeping your business going while you are serving as the caregiver. I’m here to assist you on this journey, schedule your planning session with me so we can look at how to keep your life and your business running smoothly. Also, check out my caregiving store to give you more help.
Breast cancer is not in my family, but I did have trouble conceiving a child and had to take lots of hormones. Back in 2000 after my daughter was born, I found a lump under my armpit. I went in for a mammogram and they spotted it. I then had to go through ultrasound and biopsy. It was benign, but I have had to have it check every year with a diagnostic mammogram. I am worried now because I am in my 50s and beginning menopause. Also, I have been taking Sprintec birth control for twenty years and my last exam, the doctor told me to continue to take them. I wonder if this is going to hurt me?
A friend’s story
I have also had a friend’s grandmother passed away from breast cancer. She was a woman that took very good care of herself and felt she didn’t need doctors. But unfortunately, she had collapsed in the kitchen and was admitted into the hospital. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer which means it has metastasized to her liver and other organs. This situation might have been prevented or caught earlier if she had taken different steps. She passed away several days later at the age of 67 years old. This could have been prevented if she would have regular mammograms yearly.
What our senior mothers & fathers should know about breast cancer
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Older women are at a high risk of contracting this deadly disease. Furthermore, breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer after lung cancer. This in itself speaks volumes of the situation. We need to educate our mothers and other senior women, towards this deadly disease. Here are some of the risk factors for our senior mothers to take note of:
Lack of physical activity
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is also attributed to the high risk.
Weight of the elderly women
Older women, who tend to put on weight after menopause, are at high risk.
Smoking and alcohol abuse
Women who smoke and drink alcohol are at an increased risk.
Age of menopause
Women who get their menopause after the age of 55 years are more likely to get breast cancer. Probably due to the prolonged exposure to estrogen.
Use of oral contraceptive pills for more than 5 years.
Dense breast tissues
Research has figured out the fact that having dense breasts puts the woman at 6 times higher the risk of developing it. In addition, dense breasts make the diagnosis of breast cancer extremely difficult.
Having the first pregnancy after the age of 30 years.
Family history of breast cancer
A family history of breast cancer puts the woman at an increased risk of developing the same.
Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The use of hormone replacement therapy has a strong association with the development of breast cancer. The number of women adhering to this therapy has dropped significantly.
In about 5–10% of the cases of breast cancer, we can blame the abnormal genes from the mother to daughter.
Exposure to radiation
Exposure to radiation at an early age of 30 years, for treating non-breast cancer disease. It also significantly increases the risk.
Symptoms of breast cancer in elderly women & men – signs to look for
Early detection can have early treatment can ensure better survival rates. There are many warning signs of breast cancer. However, swelling under the armpit is one of the classical symptoms. Also, there are other signs, which can also hint towards the development of a tumor in the breast. These include:
- A lump in the breast
- A change in the texture of the breast skin – such as it either thickens or turns red
- Change in the symmetry of the breast
- Swelling in the collarbone or the breast
- Unusual discharge from the breast
- Changes in the nipple
- Changes in the shape of the breast
- Tenderness or pain in the nipples
- A warm or an itching sensation in the breast
The region under the armpit
This is usually the first place that breast cancer may show up. This is because the lymphatic fluids drain the liquid from the breast in this area. Your senior may notice a lump in the armpit area, and if it stays on for more than a week, then diagnosis becomes mandatory. A development of lump may not always mean a malignancy, but it is always best to get it tested immediately.
Caring for your loved one with breast cancer
The moment your loved one has a diagnosis, It is very important to treat the disease. The kind of treatment selected largely depends on the age of your patient. Elderly above 80 years with breast cancer, adhere to a treatment plan that is different from the rest. There are a lot of elderly women who actually feel lost and really don’t know what to expect after treatment and surgery. For example, many do not know that they possibly would not be able to lift their arms for a few days after surgery. Such changes are bound to set in, and caregivers need to make their elderly well aware of these symptoms. Along with the doctor, the caregiver can provide the necessary information on what to expect after the treatment.
Here are certain tips for your loved ones to help make their life easy post-treatment.
Help them select the right garment after surgery
Garments should be soft and comfortable and the ones that can be easily worn. After surgery, lifting arm becomes difficulty and hence. Choose garments with front pockets and closures. Have soft postsurgical bras with front closures.
Nutrition is an important aspect for patients battling cancer
Give your patients a balanced diet that is high in protein. And also give them good amount of fluids throughout the day. This will help them fight fatigue, which usually sets in during the recovery periods, post-surgery.
A mild form of exercises can do wonders, and help recover better
Though exercise may seem to be a daunting task, light and simple exercises can help at the beginning.
It is necessary that you do not allow the illness to overpower them.
It is necessary that you help them stay happy and make them feel comfortable, during days when they just don’t feel the urge to get out of the bed. As caregivers, you need to know, that after surgery your elderly may have bad days. When they would experience fatigue and body ache, which would not allow them to leave the bed. In such cases, just let them be, and try to make them comfortable.
You can ask your elderly to join a meditation class
This will help them to relax and make them stress-free.
Socialize and Get some fresh air
Meeting friends, a stroll in the park, or just sitting in the open air and admiring nature. This can also make your elderly comfortable, relaxed and rejuvenated.
Don’t forget to give your elderly their “Me time”
During this time, your elderly can enjoy soft massage and relax.
Treating breast cancer in older women & men – good news
Breast cancer still remains a disease of the elderly. More than 50% of newly diagnosed cases are age 60 years and above. An interesting fact that has come to light is that the risk of getting diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age. However, the risk of dying from it becomes very low. This further means, that older women and men with it are at extremely low risk of dying from the disease. Furthermore, treating breast cancer tumors in older women and men is easier than compared to younger women and men. The reason being, the types of tumors that develop in the breast at this age have hormone receptors in them. These tumors are easily treated with aromatase inhibitors. Which keeps the estrogen out of the cancerous cells. On the other hand, older women who get estrogen negative tumors would need standard treatment methods to kill the cancer cells.
What I can do to help
Overseeing this can cause you to stress because you can’t be in 2 places at one time: taking care of your business and taking care of your loved one. Look into hiring some help. This will give you the opportunity to get some rest and also make sure your loved one is properly cared for.
Or maybe you want to spend more time with your loved one while taking a break from some of the redundant business tasks like sending out emails, returning calls, or organizing files. Let’s chat about how I can be of service to you so you can take care of your business and your loved one.
Breast cancer is a difficult and deadly disease to deal with if the diagnosis is not made in time. When diagnosed in the initial stages, the prognosis can be very good and corrected. Therefore, the caregivers should always be on a careful lookout for any kind of symptoms that seems unusual. Any symptom that raises an alarm, you should always put the doctor on notice. The best thing to do is have a plan to have a yearly physical, dental and mammogram done. And make it the same month every year to keep yourself organized. For more help, check out this post on working and caregiving.