Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. According to the American Cancer Society, “the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%.” Early detection is key to its treatment. This is why all women aged 40 and above are advised to undergo yearly mammogram checks. Here is everything you need to know about breast cancer.
In the year 2021, there are an estimated 281,550 and 49,290 new cases of invasive and non-invasive breast cancer, respectively. As the second most common cancer among women, it is also one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths. Despite the fact that death rates have been steady throughout the years, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Early detection, more advanced treatment, and growing awareness are causing women to get checked more regularly than ever before. Although breast cancer is most common in women, breast cancer can also be detected in men. Different leading healthcare organizations of how often and when men need to be screened. With this in mind, it is crucial for men to talk to their doctor about their risk levels and screening suggestions.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Here are some of the risk factors for breast cancer. Keep in mind that although this list is available, most breast cancers are not linked to one specific cause.
Age: The risk for breast cancer grows with age. This is why all women are recommended to get their annual mammogram at age 40.
Personal History: If an individual has gotten breast cancer on one breast in the past, there is a higher likelihood that he/she will develop cancer in the other breast as well.
Family History: If an individual has an immediate family member who has or has had breast cancer, he/she has a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Genetic Factors: If an individual has the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, he/she has a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Reproductive History: If a woman got their menstruation before age 12, went through menopause after age 55, never had children, had a child late, or never breastfed, the chances of her getting breast cancer is higher than average.
Hormone Usage: Some hormone therapies and birth control may contain hormones that are risk factors for breast cancer.
Other Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and unhealthy diets can also increase risk levels for breast cancer.
General Screening Guidelines
When speaking about breast cancer, yearly 2D/3D mammograms are the most important tests to screen for. Mammograms have the ability to detect breast cancer up to 3 years before the lump can be seen or felt. Studies show that although more expensive, getting a 3D mammogram reduces the chance of being called back for follow-up tests. Although women should generally get screened at age 40, it is best to consult with your doctor about when to start.
Women aged between 40-44 have the option to get an annual mammogram
Women aged between 45-50 must get mammograms every year
Women aged 55 and older have the option to get their mammogram every other year, or they can continue screening yearly
No matter what age group you are in, it is best to speak to a doctor about your risk levels for breast cancer. This will help you know your overall health better and allow you to be more conscious of the changes that occur in your body.