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By Madeline Kronfeld
Contributor, Online Learning Tips

We’re more than halfway through National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when organizations and individuals contribute to raising both awareness and funding for breast cancer research and education. While October is the dedicated month, it’s important to remember that breast cancer, and all forms of cancer, affect people on a daily basis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 200,000 women and approximately 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States. While the majority of these cases involve women over the age of 50, 11% of new cases are discovered in women younger than 45. The risk increases for those with a family history of breast cancer, namely a mother, sister, daughter, father, or brother, but it can also develop when a person does not exhibit any risk factors or have a family history. For these reasons, doctors believe that early detection and screening tests can help to save thousands of lives each year.

Risk Factors

There are certain lifestyle factors that can decrease or increase your risk for breast cancer. Among factors that decrease your risk are getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, breastfeeding your children, and being older when you first started menstruating. Factors than can increase your risk include, but are not limited to, having your first child after age 30, using oral contraceptives, drinking alcohol, and having dense breasts.

These factors are somewhat in a person’s control, but there are certain factors that you cannot change: age, gender, and genetics. We already know that simply being a woman increases your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and as you age, your risk increases. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes also result in a 55-65% and 45% chance, respectively, of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Screening vs. Genetic Tests

Screening and genetic tests will not necessarily prevent breast cancer from developing but they help in identifying signs or symptoms. The three main types of screening tests are a breast self-exam (BSE), a clinical breast exam (CBE), and a mammogram. You should be familiar with the look and feel of your own breasts so that when performing a BSE, you will be aware of any changes. When your doctor or nurse performs a CBE, it is a good opportunity for you to learn the technique so you can perform a BSE on your own. ACS recommends that women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year but those at high risk may start at a younger age.

The most common type of genetic testing is predictive gene testing, which looks for gene mutations that can cause disease. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancers then genetic testing for a BRCA gene mutation can help to identify this risk factor.

Looking Forward

Several research and education initiatives are underway for understanding and working to prevent breast cancer:

Additionally, recent research indicates progress in identifying, preventing, and treating the disease:

  • In 2015, researchers discovered a gene offering hope in treating estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer.
  • The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II identified five key findings about breast cancer, including the benefits of walking and losing weight and the harmful effects of smoking.
  • Acupressure on your ears may ease the pain and fatigue caused by breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Nursing.

The healthcare industry is growing at a rapid pace and experts predict that it will be the biggest industry in the United States in the next three years. According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking, nine of the top 10 jobs in 2016 fall in this field. With an increased need for healthcare professionals, there is also a greater need for education. American Public University’s Health Sciences degree programs teach technical and leadership skills in the fields of nursing, public health, health information management, and more. Learn about these and other programs and how you can make a difference in our future.

Vlog with Madeline Roberts
Online Learning Tips Contributor

Whether you’re working toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree, getting to the end of your program can feel like a long process. In this vlog, Madeline Roberts shares their advice on juggling responsibilities, asking for help, and keeping an eye on the final goal.

By Madeline Roberts
Online Learning Tips Contributor

The APUS Mobile App, launched in May 2015, gives APU and AMU students the ability to work from anywhere with added features that makes it easy to fit earning a degree into your lifestyle. Here are four ways the app can make life a little easier for the online learner.

By Madeline Roberts
Online Learning Tips Contributor

Remember the review you left for a business on Yelp, the tweet you sent during a football game, or the photo someone tagged you in on Instagram? The Internet does. What you say, what you like, and who you follow are all pieces of your digital footprint – the trail of information that you leave online.

By Madeline Roberts
Online Learning Tips Contributor

Thanks to social media, interaction with your fellow students and professors is no longer limited to the classroom and neither is your interaction with the school itself. Connecting with your university on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram is just one way stay up-to-date, share ideas, and get advice.

By Madeline Roberts
Online Learning Tips Contributor

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked students and alumni from American Military University and American Public University to share what they love about online learning. There are common themes with their answers, proving to us that flexibility and convenience are top priorities for those looking to earn a degree.

By Madeline Roberts
Online Learning Tips Contributor

We celebrate love this month but there is another matter of the heart to address in February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named February American Heart Month to encourage a “heart healthy” lifestyle for you and your loved ones. Here, we fact-check some common myths associated with heart disease and offer resources to learn about lowering your risk.

By Madeline Kronfeld
Online Learning Tips Contributor

Technology has changed the way we socialize, collaborate, and stay entertained. For the most part, these changes have been positive but there is a dark side to social networks, text messaging, and Internet forums that needs our attention. During Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, we concentrate on cyberbullying – what it is, how to prevent it, and how to help others.

By Madeline Kronfeld
Online Learning Tips Contributor

As an online student, you’re awarded the luxury of being able to study when it’s convenient for you. That means you don’t have to cram all night for an early morning exam but even so, it’s easy to lose focus and wind up trying to write a 10-page paper a few hours before it’s due. These study hacks will help you concentrate so you can ace your next assignment.