October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it’s a time where women should be thinking about how to decrease their risks and get their mammograms. There are 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., which proves that early diagnosis and better treatments are helping more women to survive. Still, the statistics are there to show that it’s the second most common cancer among women. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes.
Men can get breast cancer, too. Approximately 2,100 cases will be diagnosed each year. But because men don’t think they can get breast cancer, their survival chances are lower, due to the fact that they wait so long to get it checked out.
Underwire bras and compression garments do not cause breast cancer.
Mammograms do not cause cancer, as the radiation dose is very small.
Breast cancer can occur at any age, however, in younger women it tends to be more aggressive. Therefore, all women should do self-exams once a month. The national recommendation is for all women over the age of 40 to have a mammogram yearly. But if a woman has risk factors, she should talk to her medical provider about this schedule.
Eight out of ten breast lumps are benign, but if one is found, make an appointment with a medical provider right away.
Breast cancer risk is approximately doubled if there is a history among first-degree relatives such as mother and sister. But the number of cases of breast cancer with no familial history is 85%, so women shouldn’t be lax about staying on top of scheduling mammograms and self-exams. It’s a bad idea to put off exams because of non-familial breast cancer.
Breast cancer is not a death sentence. But be proactive about heading off risks by eating healthy, exercising, not smoking, and controlling weight.