Pink is the color of the month, thanks to multiple advocacy groups that have coined October as breast cancer awareness month. According to the American Cancer Institute, about 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. In fact, this year alone, approximately 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
There are certain risk factors that increase the chances of developing breast cancer, some you can change and others you cannot. A few factors beyond your control include gender, age, race and a family history of the disease. And examples of lifestyle factors that increase your risks are not having children or having them later in life, use of certain birth control methods, hormone therapy after menopause, alcohol consumption and obesity.
Regardless of where you fall on the risk factor scale, early detection can greatly increases the chances for a successful treatment and recovery. Below are breast cancer screening guidelines set by the American Cancer Society.
* Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
* Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional, at least every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.
* Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
* Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) based on certain risk factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.
For more details about screenings, visit http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-detection.
While breast cancer is popularly regarded as a woman’s disease, it does strike men as well. In fact, a man’s lifetime risk of developing the disease is one in 1,000, with 2,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer expected this year. For information about the signs and symptoms of male breast cancer, as well as methods of detection, visit http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancerinmen/detailedguide/breast-cancer-in-men-diagnosis.