October is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a time when many organizations around the country will commit to raising knowledge and awareness around breast cancer and what can be done to help prevent it. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over their lifetime. It is the second most common cancer in women, except for skin cancer.
Risk factors for breast cancer:
- Personal history
- Family history (close relative mother, sister, aunt, grandmother)
- Having first baby after age 30
- Getting your first period before age 12
- Reaching menopause after age 50
- Drinking too much alcohol
Many women have no risk factors at all.
The American Cancer Society has changed the guidelines for screening tests for women with an average risk of developing breast cancer. The new guidelines are:
- Age 40—44: it is your choice to begin testing now.
- Age 45—54: you should have a mammogram once a year.
- Age 55 and over: you should have a mammogram every 2 years.
Women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer should speak with their healthcare provider.
Tips for preventing breast cancer include:
- Regular physical activity
- Eating a diet low in fat and high in fiber
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake
Breast Cancer Myths:
- Breast cancer only happens in older women: False – it can happen at any age.
- If there is no breast cancer in your family, you will not get it: False – 75% of women with breast cancer have no family history.
- Women with small breasts have a lower risk of developing breast cancer: False.
- Breast cancer is a death sentence: False – some kinds of breast cancer have a 98% survival rate.