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By Julie Smith/Borden County Extension—
October has become a time in our country to focus on Breast Cancer Awareness. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United State (some kinds of skin cancer are the most common). Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.
Each year in the United States, about 250,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,300 in men. About 42,000 women and 510 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than White women.
So what can we do to decrease our risk of dying of breast cancer? Early detection via health screenings, such as mammography, is an important step. Screening examinations can detect breast cancers early, before symptoms occur, which may make it easier to treat the disease. Screening involves getting mammograms, clinical breast exams, and self-breast exams, which are optional. There are many factors in predicting the chances of survival of a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer but finding the cancer as early as possible greatly improves the likelihood that treatment will be effective. Visit the American Cancer Society’s web site: http://www.cancer.org to determine when you should be screened based on your risk factors.
Risk Factors You CANNOT Change
• Getting older.
• Genetic mutations.
• Reproductive history.
• Having dense breasts.
• Personal history of breast cancer or certain non-cancerous breast diseases.
• Family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
• Previous treatment using radiation therapy.
Risk Factors You CAN Change
• Not being physically active.
• Being overweight or obese after menopause.
• Taking hormones.
• Reproductive history.
• Drinking alcohol.
Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.
Remember that taking charge of your health now can lead to a healthier tomorrow. Start by getting screened this month in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Sources: Center for Disease Control, American Cancer Society