Every year in October, there are a lot of “pink” events being held across the communities. Why is so much attention given to this disease? Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in every 8 women in the United States will develop this type of cancer sometime during their life. It is also the second leading cause of death in women. By getting screened and knowing how to avoid some of the risk factors, you can improve your breast health. Don’t be fooled by rumors or myths. Know the facts.
*You can get breast cancer even if it doesn’t run in your family.
You can get breast cancer even if it doesn’t run in your family. Three out of four women with breast cancer have NO family history or other high-risk factors. But many other factors such as age, being overweight, alcohol use and hormone therapy after menopause can also increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
* Just because breast cancer runs in your family doesn’t mean you’re sure to get it.
Having breast cancer in your family doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. Many times, cancer runs in families because they have similar lifestyle habits – habits you can control and change to lower your risk. Staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, and limiting how much alcohol you drink can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Regular screenings can often find breast cancers early when treatments are more likely to be successful.
*You still need mammograms after menopause.
Getting older is not a reason to skip regular breast health checks. Your risk of developing breast cancer goes up as you get older. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers (the type that spread to more areas) are found in women age 55 and older.
*Men can get breast cancer too.
This is a fact that not everyone knows. More than 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Men should not ignore breast lumps and should get any breast changes checked just as women do.
*There are things you can do to lower your breast cancer risk.
While you can’t change certain risk factors, such as being female and having a family history of breast cancer, you can do a lot to help reduce your chances of developing this disease. Exercise more and eat healthier. Limit or eliminate alcohol and quit smoking. Being responsible about your health is a step in the right direction and can go a long way.
One of the best things you can do for your health according to the American Cancer Society is to have a screening mammogram at the age of forty and every year after. Mammography can lower your risk of dying of breast cancer by 40 percent. Be sure to talk with your doctor to see how often this should be done. You may also want to check with your insurance company to see how often they will pay for a mammogram. Screening mammography can find breast cancers early when they are very treatable, and even curable.
Another important step in your breast health is to do monthly breast self exams. If you are unsure how to do this, you can ask your doctor, nurse, or local health department. You should make an appointment to see your doctor if you notice any breast changes. You also need to remember to see your doctor on a yearly basis for a physical exam. Part of an annual exam should include a clinical breast exam done by your health care provider.
In addition to yourself and your health, remind your mother, sisters, or daughters to schedule a mammogram too. It could save their life!
If you would like information on how to perform self breast exams, mammograms or details related to breast cancer please contact Four Corners Health Department: 1-877-337-3573. During the month of October stop by the Health Department at 2101 N. Lincoln Avenue in York to pick up a free booklet on “Women and Breast Health”.