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Did you know approximately one in eight American women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime? In the fight against this deadly disease, early detection is crucial. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Advantage Care Health Centers is asking all women to consider the benefits of breast cancer screenings.
What are Breast Cancer Screenings?
A breast cancer screening is a medical test in which a doctor checks a woman’s breast for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of a disease. Although these preventive screenings cannot stop breast cancer, they may help find cancer early, when it is easier for health care professionals to treat.
Cancer Screening Recommendations
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and have an average breast cancer risk receive a mammogram every two years.
If you are between the ages of 40 and 49, you should talk with your doctor about when and how often to get breast cancer screenings.
Who Should get Tested?
Women who are considered to be at high risk for breast cancer should discuss options with their health care provider.
Who is at High Risk?
- A family history of breast cancer
- Women with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Those who have had radiation therapy to the chest before age 30
- Overweight women
- Those who drink alcohol
- Women with a lifetime risk of breast cancer greater than 20 percent, according to the American Cancer Society’s risk assessment tool
Early Detection is Crucial to Saving Lives
Breast cancer screenings are proven to save lives. According to a study by the American Cancer Society, overall breast cancer death rates have decreased more than 30 percent in the last two decades, which adds up to the prevention of more than 300,000 breast cancer deaths.
Common Breast Cancer Tests
If you are at risk for breast cancer, there are three types of exams you can receive that aid in early detection.
- Clinical breast exam
- Breast MRI
Warning Signs you Shouldn’t Ignore
Whether you are at risk or not, you should regularly check for common warning signs of breast cancer, like these:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in breast size or shape
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Nipple discharge
- New pain in one spot that does not go away
Where to get Screened for Breast Cancer
Advantage Care Health Centers offers breast cancer screenings to at-risk women as part of our preventive care services. Most health insurance plans are required to cover mammograms every one to two years for women beginning at age 40 with no out-of-pocket costs.
If you haven’t had a cancer screening lately, consider scheduling one during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.