National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So let’s get the facts straight when it comes to breast cancer.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is currently the most common diagnosed cancer in women. After heart disease, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. In the United States, about 220,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and about 40,000 women will die from breast cancer yearly. Breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease. An estimated 2,150 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States yearly, and about 440 men will die from the disease each year. According the WHO (World Health Organization), breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide.
How do I know if I have breast cancer?
Early warning signs of breast cancer can include finding a small lump in your breast or seeing changes in the appearance of your breast or specifically an area of skin. Performing a breast self-examination, at the same time every month, can help with early breast cancer detection. You can do the examination in the shower, lying down, or in front of a mirror.
What are the current guidelines for a mammogram?
Mammograms can sometimes detect very small lumps before they can actually be felt on self- examination. A mammogram can also find tiny clusters of calcifications or microcalcifications, which need further evaluation. Your doctor can discuss additional screening tests that may be advisable if these tiny calcifications or other abnormalities are detected. Current guidelines for mammogram screening suggest a baseline mammogram at age 40 and then follow up screenings every year or every other year. Again, a discussion with your doctor can determine the appropriate timing and frequency for you. If your doctor determines that as a younger woman you have significant risk factors for breast cancer, you may be counseled to start mammogram screenings at an earlier age.
How can I lower my risk for breast cancer?
- Try to stay at a healthy weight
- Exercise daily or most days of the week
- Eat a mostly plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Avoid smoking and heavy alcohol use
- Do monthly self-examinations and follow the recommended mammogram guidelines
- See your doctor yearly for a clinical breast examination