Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, except for some kinds of skin cancer. Nearly one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. But thanks to advances in technology and medical care, when caught in its early stages, breast cancer is a very treatable disease, with a five-year survival rate of 98 percent. That is why early detection and treatment are so important.
Your role in breast health
Most breast lumps are discovered by women doing self-exams, though the majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. Follow these recommended guidelines for your breast health:
- Do a breast self-exam every month.
- Have a clinical breast exam by your physician every year.
- Have a screening mammogram every year once you turn 40 (women at high risk for breast cancer, such as those with a personal or family history, may need mammograms at a younger age, as well as additional testing).
Lowering your risk
Your risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. But there are ways you can help lower your risk:
- Know your family history of breast cancer; genetic testing is now available to help assess risk and plan preventive care.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Discuss the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor.
- Get screened for breast cancer regularly after age 40.