Breast Cancer and our seniors
It is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I would like to help in any way possible. Breast cancer is one of the senior population’s most significant causes of mortality. 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. Unfortunately, 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 sporadic but has recently 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 have higher mortality than women, 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 the same for both men and women.
Breast Cancer and the caregiver
It can be challenging to attend to your loved one with breast cancer, but it’s not impossible. With the proper knowledge, you can do this. Don’t forget about caring for yourself and keeping your business going while 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. 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 an ultrasound and biopsy. It was benign, but I have had to have it checked yearly 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 on 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 pass away from breast cancer. She was a woman that took excellent care of herself and felt she didn’t need doctors. But unfortunately, she collapsed in the kitchen and was admitted to the hospital. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, which has metastasized to her liver and other organs. This situation might have been prevented or caught earlier if she had taken different steps. Unfortunately, she passed away several days later at 67 years old. This could have been prevented if she had had regular mammograms yearly.
What our senior mothers & fathers should know about breast cancer
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Therefore, older women are at a high risk of contracting this deadly disease. Furthermore, breast cancer is the second most common form after lung cancer. This in itself speaks volumes of the situation. Therefore, we must educate our mothers and other senior women about this deadly disease. Here are some of the risk factors for our aging mothers to take note of:
Lack of physical activity
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is also attributed to high risk.
Weight of the elderly women
Older women tend to put on weight after menopause and 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 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 five years.
Dense breast tissues
Research has figured out that having dense breasts puts a woman at a six times higher risk of developing it. In addition, dense breasts make the diagnosis of breast cancer extremely difficult.
We have our 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 is strongly associated with breast cancer development. The number of women adhering to this therapy has dropped significantly.
In about 5–10% of breast cancer cases, we can blame the abnormal genes from the mother to daughter.
Exposure to radiation
Exposure to radiation at an early age of 30 for treating non-breast cancer disease. However, it also significantly increases the risk.
Symptoms of breast cancer in older 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 classic 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 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; if it stays on for more than a week, diagnosis becomes mandatory. The lump development may not always mean a malignancy, but it is always best to get it tested immediately.
Caring for your loved one with breast cancer
When your loved one is diagnosed, It is essential to treat the disease. The kind of treatment mainly selected depends on the age of your patient. Elderly above 80 years with breast cancer adhere to a treatment plan different from the rest. There are a lot of older women who actually feel lost and really don’t know what to expect after treatment and surgery. For example, many do not see that they possibly could not 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 tips for your loved ones to help make their life easy post-treatment.
Help them select the fitting garment after surgery.
Garments should be soft and comfortable and the ones that can be easily worn. After surgery, lifting the arm becomes difficult and hence. Choose garments with front pockets and closures. Have soft postsurgical bras with front closures.
Nutrition is an essential aspect for patients battling cancer
Give your patients a balanced diet that is high in protein. And also, give them a good amount of fluids throughout the day. This will help them fight fatigue, which usually sets in during recovery, and post-surgery.
A mild form of exercise can do wonders and help one recover better
Though exercise may seem daunting, light and simple exercises can help at the beginning.
It would be best if you didn’t allow the illness to overpower them.
You must help them stay happy and make them feel comfortable during days when they don’t feel the urge to get out of bed. As caregivers, you need to know that your elderly may have bad days after surgery. 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 massages and relax.
Treating breast cancer in older women & men – good news
Breast cancer remains a disease of the elderly. More than 50% of newly diagnosed cases are aged 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 shallow risk of dying from the disease.
Furthermore, treating breast cancer tumors in older women and men is more accessible than compared to younger women and men. The reason is that the types of tumors that develop in the breast at this age have hormone receptors. These tumors are easily treated with aromatase inhibitors, which keep 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 can I do to help
Overseeing this can cause stress because you can’t be in 2 places at one time: taking care of your business and your loved one. Look into hiring some help. This will allowallow you to get some rest and ensure your loved one is properly cared for.
Or maybe you want to spend more time with your loved one while taking a break from redundant business tasks like sending emails, returning calls, or organizing files. Let’s chat about how I can serve you so you can take care of your business and your loved ones.
Breast cancer is a complex and deadly disease if the diagnosis is not made in time—however, the when prognosis can be excellent and corrected when diagnosed in the initial stages. Therefore, caregivers should always be on a careful lookout for unusual symptoms. If any sign raises the alarm, you should always notify the doctor. The best thing to do is 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.