As you take part in your next book club, get together with other moms on the playground, or catch up with friends over coffee, take a look around. How many in your circle could develop breast cancer? How many already have?
One in eight women will develop breast cancer. It’s the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women; and in Delaware and the United States, it is the second-leading cause of death from cancer in women.
Women of all ages should know how their breasts normally look and feel. They should perform self-exams of their breasts regularly and report any changes to their health care provider. If you’re 25 or older, you should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) every year. Women 40 and older should have a mammogram and a CBE every year.
It’s important to be aware that breast cancer can affect anyone, but those with risk factors may require more frequent checks or mammograms that start at an earlier age. Some common risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Being older than age 50
- Family or personal history of cancer
- History of abnormal breast biopsies
The good news is that breast cancer, especially when detected early, can be treated successfully. Today, there are more options in terms of technology and medicine than ever before.
A mammogram helps detect early signs of breast cancer, making it a vital part of all women’s health care routine. For some of us, scheduling an annual breast cancer screening is fairly easy. During an annual visit to your primary care provider or OB-GYN, you can get a script for a mammogram, set up a time, hop in your vehicle, and go get it done. For some women, however, it may not be that easy if barriers exist. In Delaware, if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t pay for cancer screenings, you may be eligible for no cost screenings through the Screening for Life program. Call Screening for Life at 302-744-1040 to find out if you qualify.
One in eight is a startling statistic. But with routine breast exams, regularly scheduled mammograms, and proper health education, all women have a chance for early detection, treatment, and survival.