Are you aware of your risk?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the perfect time to remind, both women and men, early detection saves lives. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 100%. Early detection includes monthly breast self-exams and yearly clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Some facts you should know:

  • Mammography continues to be the best first line of defense for early breast cancer screening yet nearly one third of American women do not get regular mammograms.
  • 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer within her lifetime.
  • Men can develop breast cancer, however less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 8 out of 9 women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
  • Breast cancer risk increases with age – 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women over 55.

Breast cancer screening is vital for all women, especially those at higher risk. Here are some contributing factors and preventative tips:

Exercise: With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can lower her risk of breast cancer.

Stop Smoking: Smoking is a confirmed risk factor for many types of cancer. Smoking also directly contributes to heart and other lung diseases, too.

Alcohol: Consuming just one drink a day has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Having more than one drink per day has shown to be a more significant risk factor. If you drink alcohol, this is an important topic to discuss with your doctor so that you will know what limits are best for you to observe.

Birth Control: There is an increased risk of breast cancer for women who have been using birth control pills for more than five years. However due to the low amount of hormones in birth control pills today, the risk is relatively small.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: HRT was added to the carcinogenic list by the American Cancer Society in the early 2000s. It is recommended that women with known risks not be placed on HRT to control menopausal symptoms.

Family History: Although women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

Reproductive History: Women who began their menstrual cycles before age 12, have no biological children, or had their first child at 30 or older, or began menopause after 55 are at a higher risk.