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October is breast cancer awareness month

Atlanta area residents have likely noticed people donning pink ribbons and other pink accessories this month. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, this month especially, it's important to shine a spotlight on the disease and how it’s affect on the lives of the millions of women and men and family members impacted. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. 40,000 women will die this year alone from breast cancer and "one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for U.S. women with breast cancer a close second. Today, health care providers are vigilant in providing mammograms to women over the age of 40 or who have a family history of the disease. Early detection and treatment is critical to ensuring the cancer is not allowed to spread to the lymph system, bloodstream or other organs.

Scientists remain largely in the dark about what causes some women develop breast cancer, but have been able to determine genetic and environmental links. While certain risk factors have been identified as increasing an individual's chances of developing breast cancer, these factors are not applicable to approximately 65 percent of the women and men diagnosed with the disease.

Upon being diagnosed with breast cancer, an individual will work with members of his or her medical team to determine a plan of action. Today, many individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease are successfully treated. An individual's prognosis depends largely on the type and stage of breast cancer as well as an individual's overall health and if they have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer. A doctor will likely recommend one or more of the many treatment options that exist including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

In addition to the mental and emotional difficulties associated with a breast cancer diagnosis, an individual going through treatment is likely to experience adverse physical side effects. In many cases, individuals who have been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment for the disease may be unable to work. For these individuals, Social Security Disability Insurance may provide much-needed income during a time when an individual needs to be able to focus on his or her health and recovery.

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