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August 6, 2019 | OB/GYN
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, outpaced only by skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Women, on average, face a 12% chance of developing breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, which means that approximately one out of every eight women will receive a diagnosis.
Every year, more than 41,000 women die from this disease. Understanding your risk factors, having regular mammograms and seeing your women’s health provider regularly can help you stay as healthy as possible.
Early detection is one of the best ways to reduce the number of deaths related to breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society also publishes screening guidelines for women who face an average level of risk and for those who face an increased risk.
For women of average risk, the screening guidelines are as follows:
Age 40-44 Optional annual mammogram
Age 45-54 Annual mammogram
Age 55 and up Optional annual mammogram or at least every two years
For women who face increased risk, the organization recommends annual screening via mammogram and MRI starting at age 30. Talk to your doctor about your level of risk and when breast cancer screenings are appropriate for you.
Some factors that increase your risk, according to the American Cancer Society, include:
Family history is frequently associated with elevated risk. However, only 5%-10% of those who develop breast cancer have a family history of the disease, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).
Some lifestyle choices may also increase your risk, including being sedentary, using tobacco and drinking alcohol.
Although more research is needed to determine how these and other behavioral choices affect your risk of developing breast cancer, most research indicates that these factors affect your overall cancer risk and your risk of developing other chronic illnesses.
Although the American Cancer Society previously called for monthly self-exams and annual clinical examinations, they modified those guidelines in 2015. The revised guidelines do not recommend either self-administered exams or clinical exams, citing a lack of evidence supporting their benefit.
Many healthcare practitioners continue to recommend professional and self-examinations, however. Your OB/GYN can answer your questions and provide additional information on this topic.
Talk to your OB/GYN or primary care doctor about how often you should have a mammogram, based on your personal medical history, family history and your specific risk factors.
Your doctor can also talk to you about performing self-exams and how frequently you should schedule professional examinations.
Together, we can win the battle against breast cancer and help you live a longer, healthier life.
“American Cancer Society Recommendations for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer.” American Cancer Society.
“Frequently Asked Questions About the American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Screening Guideline.” American Cancer Society.
“Breast Cancer FAQs.” National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.