October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer among American women. Each year in the United States, an estimated 255,000 women get breast cancer a year and around 42,000 women die from the disease. Breast cancer is usually found in women who are 50 and older, but it can also affect younger women as well. Men can also get it, but it is not as common. 1 out of 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. is found in a man.
Detect Breast Cancer Early
The best way to catch breast cancer early is to get a yearly mammogram. When it is caught early it is easier to treat. Mammograms can help you find cancer before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. The American Cancer Society says Women ages 40-44 may start to get annual screening with mammograms if they choose to do so. Women aged 45-54 are urged to get examined every year. Then once they have reached the age of 55, it is recommended to switch to mammograms every 2 years.
There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include:
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood)
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
If you have any of these symptoms, we urge you to see your doctor right away.
Year Round Prevention
There are a few things that you can do to help lower your risk of getting breast cancer.
Abstaining from alcoholic beverages is recommended for women. Limiting alcohol consumption to one drink a day or less is best for lowering your breast cancer risk. We also advise women to exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, maintain a healthy weight range, and avoid smoking.
Screening options such as 3D mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRIs may be a better way to detect tumor tissue in women with dense breasts. Dense breasts may slightly increase the risk of getting breast cancer. However, there are several other factors that go into overall risk, such as:
- Strong family history of breast cancer
- BRCA gene mutation
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Undergoing chest radiation at a young age
- Lifestyle habits
The most important way you can lower your risk is by speaking with a healthcare professional about your risk factors and what preventive measures you should take. At Our Family DPC, we take your health seriously. Should you ever feel concerned about breast cancer, please contact us and we will get you in for an appointment as soon as possible to evaluate your risk.