Breast cancer is a scary reality, and if you are a woman, yearly screening and exams should be one of your biggest priorities.
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, more than 230,000 women in the United States last year were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Fortunately, deaths from breast cancer have been going down each year, thanks to early detection and advancements in medical technology.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are breaking down some of the most important facts about breast cancer, courtesy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Remember: early detection is key.
Is Breast Cancer Preventable?
Even though the exact causes of breast cancer aren’t certain, there are several factors that play a role in development of the disease.
Age, gender, and estrogen play an important role, but experts are still unsure about the exact causes of breast cancer. Even though the origin of breast cancer is an uncertainty, there are things you can still do to reduce your risk.
One key factor to reducing breast cancer is maintaining a healthy weight. This means eating a diet balanced with essential nutrition. Exercise has also been shown to be helpful at reducing breast cancer, as well as limiting your alcohol intake.
If you are postmenopausal, reducing the amount of hormones you take has also been shown to help.
How Do I Know if I’m at Risk?
Essentially, every woman is at risk of getting breast cancer. This is why early detection and regular check-ups are so critical. There are certain factors, however, that you should know about.
Older women: If you are over the age of 50, you are more likely to get breast cancer than someone who is younger.
Young women: Women as young as their early 20’s are also at risk of getting breast cancer.
White women: Are more likely to get breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.
Men: Men can get breast cancer too. Out of every 100 cases of breast cancer, one will occur in a man.
If I Have a Family History of Breast Cancer, Does That Mean I’ll Get it?
If other members of your family had breast cancer, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to get it. In fact, in the U.S., only about 5-10% of breast cancers occur because of inherited mutations.
If I’m Diagnosed, What Are My Chances of Survival?
Survival rates for breast cancer have gotten better and better over the years. As of now, the five year survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is about 90 percent.
Basically, this means that 90 out of 100 women with breast cancer will survive for at least five years. Most will live a full life without a single recurrence.
Your chances of survival are even better if the cancer is detected early. This is why it is so important to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.
Your Best Bets for Early Detection
Mammograms. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It is the best screening tool used today to detect breast cancer early. A mammogram can find cancer in its earliest stages, even before a lump can be felt.
A Clinical Breast Exam. This is done by your health care provider who checks your breasts and underarms for any noticeable lumps or changes. Women should have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years between the ages of 20 and 39, and every year after the age of 40.