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Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us! NBCAM is an annual movement to raise awareness and aid in the early detection of breast cancer. In a healthy body, natural systems control the creation, growth and death of cells. Cancer occurs when our cells do not die at the normal rate (Susan G Komen). Breast cancer develops when these damaged cells build up and form a lump or tumor in the breast. These cells can break away and spread to other tissues in the body through the blood vessels and lymph vessels, causing the cancer to spread.

There are several steps one can take to avoid developing breast cancer, all of which improve your overall health. As with many other cancers, smoking can increase ones risk for developing breast cancer. In addition to leading a tobacco-free lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight by exercising regularly (about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week) and eating a balanced diet (avoiding foods high in saturated fat), have been shown to reduce risk for developing breast cancer.

Early detection saves thousands of lives each year. Breast cancer can be diagnosed in early stages through screenings such as breast self-examinations, clinical breast examinations, and mammograms. These methods can prevent the spread of the disease to parts of the body other than the breasts. Find out more about breast cancer from the American Cancer Society.

Did You Know?

  • There are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States (ACS).
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of death among women exceeded only by lung cancer (ACS).
  • About 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women (ACS).
  • About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime (ACS).

Screening Guidelines

  • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years
  • Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
  • Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year.

Read more screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, The American Cancer Society, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, jLifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.