OP-ED: October is National Breast Cancer Month
By: Mrs. Brenda Fleischmann
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
“Happy Birthday” and “Happy Anniversary” are sweet words to say and to hear, especially in October. October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. By learning more about breast cancer prevention and by sharing information with friends and family, you can ensure that your loved ones are able to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries for many years to come.
Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States. An estimated 266,120 women, and 2,550 men are expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2018, and nearly 41,000 women, and 480 men will die of the disease. In Tennessee alone, an estimated 5,590 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 920 will die of the disease. Thankfully, death rates are declining thanks to improvements in early detection and treatment.
If you’re a woman in your 20s or 30s, talk to your health care professional about Clinical Breast Exams (CBEs) and if you have a family history of cancer, be sure to discuss other screening options as well. Screening saves lives by finding breast cancer earlier, when treatment may be more successful. Beginning at age 40, the Prevent Cancer Foundation® encourages women to get a CBE and a mammogram annually. Your health care professional may recommend that you begin screening earlier, get screened more frequently or get Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with your mammogram if you have a family history of the disease.
Although more expensive and not always covered by insurance, 3D mammograms have been found to be slightly better at detecting cancer and may reduce false positives (a result that suggests cancer is present when it really is not). Talk to your health care professional to see if your screening facility offers this technology and if this method is recommended for you.
You can take steps to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Try to limit alcohol intake, exercise on a regular basis, maintain a healthy weight and don’t smoke. Take action now and make these healthy lifestyle choices to stop cancer before it starts. Learn more at www.preventcancer.org/breast.
Brenda Fleischmann is the spouse of Representative Chuck Fleischmann and is a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program. Statistic are provided by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.