National Breast Cancer Awareness month is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Through heightened awareness about early detection, and the development of excellent treatment options, survival rates for breast cancer have increased.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early, in its localized stages (has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs), the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent.
Detecting breast cancer: When to start mammograms
Mammography is considered by some experts to be the most effective tool for early detection, since this technology can detect tumors before they are felt. But not all organizations agree on the age at which women should begin screening.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and the American College of Physicians suggest that women begin mammogram screenings at age 50 (rather than 40) at a frequency of every two years (instead of annually) through the age of 74. The American Cancer Society now recommends that women at an average risk of breast cancer begin having yearly mammograms at age 45, continue through age 54, then get screened every other year after that until age 74.
However, both of those organizations acknowledge that beginning to screen at age 40 may make sense. Women at a higher risk for breast cancer (those whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer) may want to start mammograms at age 40, or in rare cases, even earlier.
Early detection through breast self-exams
For many women, breast self-exams provide a measure of peace of mind, in that they can check their breasts every month:
Premenopausal women should perform a breast self-exam toward the end of the menstrual period. At this time, hormonal shifts have the least influence on breast tissue and the breasts are generally less tender.
Postmenopausal women should choose a date of the month and perform the self-exam on that same date each month.
World-class breast cancer treatment in San Antonio
The compassionate, experienced physicians at the START Center for Cancer Care understand that finding a lump on your breast or anywhere on your body can be a scary experience. The heart and will of our physicians and staff helps provide the world-class care that you deserve. To learn more about our physicians and care, or to schedule an appointment, call 210-745-6841 today.