October is breast cancer awareness month; 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over their lifetime. It is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer. Although the disease is more common among women, men are also at risk; about 2,000 men per year are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Risk factors for breast cancer:
- Personal history
- Mutations in BRCA 1 or BRAC 2 genes
- Family history (close relative mother, sister, aunt, grandmother)
- Having a 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 health care providers.
Tips for preventing breast cancer include:
- Regular physical activity
- Eating a diet low in fat and high in fiber
- No 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: women of any breast size are susceptible to breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is a death sentence; False: Some kinds of breast cancer have a 98% survival rate.
- Only women can develop breast cancer; False: About 2,000 men per year are diagnosed with breast cancer.