Breast Cancer Awareness and What it Means for Your Employees

While there are a plethora of health and wellness topics that your company could easily roll out for a lunch and learn session, one of the most neglected lunch and learn topics can also be one of the most life-changing ones – breast cancer awareness.

Breast cancer diagnosis among women in the US takes second place only to skin cancer. With over 200,000 women being diagnosed with breast cancer every year, it’s astounding that there is still a considerable lack of breast cancer awareness among many communities.

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Breast cancer awareness does more than simply create a sympathy towards those suffering from the disease. It saves lives. Thousands of women have benefited from a thorough explanation of breast cancer by finding that the knowledge they gained was instrumental in diagnosing the disease shortly thereafter in themselves.

As an employer dedicated to providing your workers with an integrated culture of health and wellness, you cannot afford to ignore the hard topics. And this one will invariably present itself in some manner during the course of your company’s life.

So what can you offer in your session that efficiently covers this difficult lunch and learn topic?

Arm your employees with the facts they need for successfully preventing, diagnosing, and combating this ravaging disease.

Lunch and Learn Topics Fact Sheet: Breast Cancer Awareness

Definition of Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Abnormal cells begin dividing and destroying the body tissue in surrounding areas. Breast cancer, in particular, results from these abnormal cells developing in the breast.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

It’s important for your employees to know the initial signs of breast cancer – the sooner cancer is detected, the greater the chance of eradicating all traces of the disease.

Breast Cancer iBlog img.jpgThe following symptoms are all reasons for concern; however, it’s important to note that the presence of these symptoms does not always mean cancer is present.

  • New lump in the breast or underarm area
  • Breast skin becoming irritated or dimpled
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple or breast area
  • Pain in the nipple area
  • Pain in the breast
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge other than milk, including blood
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast

Increased Risk Factors for Cancer

Understanding the risk factors associated with cancer can involve your employees probing into their own family history, but the knowledge is well worth the trouble. During your lunch and learn for breast cancer awareness, encourage your employees to know the facts concerning their risk probability. The following conditions can lead to increased breast cancer risk:

  • 50 years or older
  • A change in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (breast cancer related genes), increases risk by 55-60%.
  • Women who had their first menstrual period before age 12
  • Women who have never given birth or had their first child at an older age
  • A later menopause onset (after age 55)
  • The use of hormone replacement therapy
  • The use of oral contraceptives
  • Having a personal history of breast cancer, dense breasts or some other breast problems
  • Any family history of breast cancer in a parent, sibling or child
  • Exposure to radiation therapy in the breast or chest area
  • Being overweight and generally unhealthy

Reducing Risk Factors

While some probability of breast cancer relates to family history and the genes present in the body, there are still steps you can encourage your employees to take today in order to help prevent breast cancer.

  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly (at least 3 hours a week)
  • Limit alcoholic drinks or cut them out completely
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (harsh lawn chemicals, harsh cleaning chemicals, teflon coated pots and pans, etc.)
  • Reduce breast exposure to radiation during medical tests (x-rays, CT scans, PET scans) if possible
  • Breastfeed your babies
  • Talk to your doctor before starting or continuing the use of hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives. If you have high risk genes for breast cancer, seek a different alternative.

Screening for Breast Cancer

Educate your employees on the need to perform regular breast cancer screenings. Encourage women over 50 or those between 40-49 that have a higher risk of breast cancer to receive a mammogram every two years, or as prescribed by their doctor. Emphasize the importance of regular doctor visits and open communication between your employees and their doctor.

Handling Difficult Lunch and Learn Topics

Some lunch and learn topics may best be handled with extra delicacy. A breast cancer awareness health and wellness topic may be one in which you would want to consider gender separation. Women with questions may not feel as free to speak up with male peers in the room. However, it’s important that men know some of these facts as well. Men can also contract breast cancer, although the rate of diagnosis is rare in men. The awareness is also important as many men have or will have wives, sisters, mothers, or daughters who will be affected by this disease.

For more lunch and learn topic ideas or to attain more information concerning a breast cancer awareness session for your employees, contact a Wellworks Representative at 800.425.4657. Wellworks For You can help you navigate each step of your health and wellness program.