One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, so there is a good chance this disease will affect you or someone you love. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. More than 230,000 women and 2,100 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year nationally, and more than 41,000 women and 465 men will die from it. In Idaho, more than 1,000 new cases will be diagnosed, and almost 200 people will die from it. So it’s a good time to talk with your doctor about your options.
Is it possible for a person to reduce their risk?
Risk factors for breast cancer include being female, getting older, and becoming a mother later in life. Other factors include a family history of breast cancer, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Even though you can’t control your genetic risk for the disease, you can do your part to stay healthy and help prevent it. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcoholic drinks, knowing your family history, and getting the recommended regular screenings all help reduce your risk.
What can women do to detect breast cancer early?
Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer in the early stage. In fact, mammograms can detect breast cancer up to three years before it can be felt. Health officials recommend that women should talk to their doctors about when they should begin getting mammograms, but average-risk women who are 50-74 years old should have a mammogram every two years. All women should regularly check for changes in the size or shape of their breasts, feel for lumps, and discuss any changes with their doctors.
Why is breast cancer screening important?
The earlier cancer is found, the earlier you can get treatment for it. If breast cancer is discovered before it spreads, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent on the national level. But for late-stage cases, the five-year survival rate drops to 24 percent. That’s why early detection is important.
Are women in Idaho getting the proper screening?
Actually, we could be doing a lot better in our state. Idaho has the lowest mammography rate in the United States, even though the evidence is clear that getting a regular screening could save your life. So if you are part of the 30 percent of Idaho women who should have had a mammogram but haven’t, please talk to your doctor about scheduling an appointment.
Where can women get screened?
Your doctor can help you determine your options and recommend a clinic. Low income women can find out about free screening through the Women’s Health Check program at www.womenshealthcheck.dhw.idaho.gov.
A Closer Look at Your Health airs weekly on KBOI AM 670 in Boise; this is a transcript from the Oct. 24, 2017 program.