Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us! There are many organizations that are active in the effort of awareness and research. Some of these include The American Cancer Society and their annual Relay for Life event that occurs all over the nation and the Avon Foundation where they walk 39.3 miles in two days. 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 cancer to spread.

Did you know that there are more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States? Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of death among women exceed only by lung cancer. In 2016, about 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime (ACS).

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. It is important to talk to your healthcare professional to talk about family history or increased risks you may have. Find out more about breast cancer from the American Cancer Society.

Screening Guidelines (ACS)

  • 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.

Take a fast and FREE online breast cancer risk assessment in October for the chance to win a weekend getaway!

Sources: American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Foundation, Beast Cancer Organization, LifeWork Strategies, 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.