With an aim to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research, Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages communities, individuals and organizations to spread the word about early detection, education and support services.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women, and about one in eight women born in the U.S. will develop breast cancer at some point. Rates of breast cancer are 8 percent higher in Alaska Native female populations.
To prevent deaths from breast cancer, finding the disease early is key. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society has screening guidelines for women at average risk of breast cancer, and for those at high risk for breast cancer.
Average Risk Screening Guidelines (no personal history, no strong family history and no genetic mutation known to increase risk, such as the BRCA gene)
- Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
- Women 45 to 54 are advised to get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
High Risk Screening Guidelines (personal history of cancer; known genetic mutation, such as BRCA, or a first-degree relative who’s been diagnosed or has a genetic mutation; radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30; and certain syndromes)
- Talk to your doctor, but screening recommendations may include self and clinical exams, earlier annual mammograms and annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) starting at age 25 or earlier. Women should also be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.
For more information, talk to your doctor and visit www.cancer.org.