October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. Following the screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society and performing monthly self breast exams can help save thousands of lives each year. Watch this video for more information: https://youtu.be/0_vZUhRXqns
These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer.
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The risks of screening as well as the potential benefits should be considered.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women age 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
- All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms associated with breast cancer screening. They should also be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.
For women at higher than average risk
Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. This includes women who:
- Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (such as the Claus model – see below)
- Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves
- Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
- Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes.
Ordering shoes, checking your bank statements and booking flights. You can do pretty much anything online these days – including scheduling a mammogram.
Log on to your myHealthPartners account at healthpartners.com to schedule an appointment or find a doctor. Or, download the myHP mobile app to search for care on your smart phone.
Once A Month
Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical center states,“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes. Watch this video to see how to perform a breast self-exam.