October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is focused on increasing awareness about the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.1 Among the 250,000 Americans who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year,2 a majority will undergo strong chemotherapy, which may weaken the immune system and increase the risk of developing an infection.3 Patients who proactively bring up the topic with their doctor can contribute to reducing this risk. To start the conversation, patients can ask their doctor simple questions such as the below:
- What type of chemotherapy am I receiving?
- Am I at increased risk for infection?
- What could happen if I get a serious infection?
- What can I do to reduce my risk for infection?
Patients diagnosed with breast cancer already face a tough battle. Everyone can make a difference as a patient, caregiver or friend. Make an additional effort this month and encourage anyone you know who may be at risk of infection due to chemotherapy to ask the right questions.
To learn more about possible infection risk associated with cancer treatment, visit: www.preventcancerinfections.org . You can also visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org to learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and how you can get involved.
- National Breast Cancer Foundation. Breast Cancer Facts. http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts. Accessed Aug. 26, 2016.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf. Accessed Aug. 26, 2016.
- BreastCancer.org. How Chemotherapy Affects the Immune System. http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/immune/cancer/chemo. Accessed Aug. 26, 2016.