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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

CMO Message - Breast Cancer Awareness

We’ve been constantly reminded over the last year and a half that there are many factors in life that we cannot control. This is also true within our own bodies.

Although there are many aspects of our health that we can control, there are factors such as genetics, chemical or radiation exposures, aging that are entirely outside our control and can lead to cancer.

Even if someone lives a perfect lifestyle - by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, getting good sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding substances including tobacco and excess alcohol, and minimizing unhealthy stress - cancer can still develop. It’s unfair and it happens everyday.

All women are at risk of developing breast cancer regardless of a healthy lifestyle or lack of family history. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer worldwide and accounts for 1 out of every 8 new cancer diagnoses. The majority of women (85%) who develop breast cancer have no family history. Given the widespread risk of breast cancer, the most important thing we can do to fight it is to get screened. Women 50 to 74 years old with average risk of breast cancer should have a screening mammogram every 2 years. Some women might need screening earlier depending on individual risk factors.

Not all people with breast cancer have symptoms but there are several warning signs that should be discussed with your doctor. These symptoms include lumps or pain in the breasts or armpits, change in breast size or shape, changes in the skin of the breast or nipple, and unusual or bloody nipple discharge. These symptoms can also be signs of breast cancer in men and should be addressed with a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

We can’t control all the risk factors for breast cancer, but we can control whether or not we get the recommended screenings. Although screening itself doesn’t prevent breast cancer, it’s a critical tool to detect cancer in its early stages when it can be more effectively treated. If you are 50 years or older and have never had a mammogram or haven’t had one in over 2 years, call your doctor’s office today to schedule one.

FAQs

  1. Who should get screened for breast cancer?
    Women 50 to 74 years old should have a mammogram every 2 years to screen for breast cancer. If you or a family member has had any cancer, speak to your physician about whether you should be screened earlier and whether you’d be a candidate for genetic testing.
  2. What are possible symptoms of breast cancer that we should be aware of?
  3. Not all people with breast cancer have symptoms but there are several warning signs that should be discussed with your doctor. These symptoms include lumps or pain in the breasts or armpits, change in breast size or shape, changes in the skin of the breast or nipple, and unusual or bloody nipple discharge.
  4. Can men get breast cancer?
    Roughly 1 out of every 100 cases of breast cancer occur in men. While breast cancer in men is rare, it can manifest the same warning signs above. Men who are experiencing any of those symptoms should speak to their physician as soon as possible.
  5. How can breast cancer be prevented?
    Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your lifetime. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol, get adequate sleep, and minimize unhealthy stress. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about whether there is anything else you can do to reduce your risk.
  6. Where can I go to get screened for breast cancer?
    If you are 50 years or older and have never had a mammogram or haven’t had one in over 2 years, call your doctor’s office today to schedule one. If you do not have a primary care doctor, please call Member Services at 800.223.4590 for assistance and our Health & Wellness Centers at 877.877.7981 to schedule an appointment.

Author(s)

  • Rosemary Ku, MD/MBA/MPA