On behalf of the American Cancer Society I would like to remind women about the importance of early breast cancer detection now that October is coming to a close as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancer. In Iowa this year, more than 2,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and roughly 400 women will die from this disease.
Many studies have shown that finding breast cancer early can save women’s lives and increase their treatment options. Therefore, I encourage you to consider the breast cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society:
Mammogram: Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and keep on doing so as long as they are in good health.
Clinical breast exam: Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breat exam as part of a regular exam by a health expert, at least every three years. After age 40, women should have a clinical breast exam by a health expert every year.
Breast self exam: Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care professional right away. Breast self exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.
Although some risk factors for breast cancer cannot be changed, such as being female, age and family history, there are some things a woman can do that can help reduce her risk of getting breast cancer. These are: Staying at a healthy weight throughout life, adopting a physically active lifestyle and limiting alcohol consumption.
By Linda Webner American Cancer Society Volunteer and State Leadership Council Member