Health Hub: Think Pink

Every woman should have annual mammograms starting at age 40.

You may have noticed by now – from the ribbons adorning every retail store to the battered cleats of the NFL’s toughest defensive linemen – pink is in. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while the general public understands the disease much more deeply because of the efforts to raise awareness, more than 40,000 American women are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer.

The Good News

The second most common type of cancer affecting U.S. women (lung cancer is the first), breast cancer will be found in 12.4 percent of women at some point during their lifetimes. The good news: breast cancer death rates have been steadily decreasing since 1989. In fact, women younger than 50 have experienced the largest decreases, the result of wider knowledge about risk factors and earlier detection through mammograms.

The Importance of Mammograms

Family history of breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with the disease, but breast cancer is often found in women with no such history. Other risk factors vary depending on each individual’s genetic makeup and environmental exposure.

There is no known definitive way to prevent breast cancer, but you can lower your risks by:

  • Eating a diet rich in healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding controllable risk factors like smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol
  • Having routine mammograms, beginning at age 40

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women age 40 and older get annual screening mammograms. However, if you have a family history of cancer, any changes to your breasts, or other high-risk factors, it may be recommended to begin receiving screenings at an earlier age.

By screening your cancer risk and ordering routine mammograms, your doctor can develop a plan to reduce your risk factors and watch for any breast changes. With routine screening, the hope is that if you do get breast cancer, it can be detected and treated early for the best possible outcomes.

Kamy Kemp, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon with extensive fellowship training and experience as a diagnostic physician and breast health specialist. Florida Hospital Medical Group breast health physicians provide comprehensive treatment, counseling and cures for all stages of breast cancer, including early stage diagnosis, unique follow-up care, genetic testing, revolutionary surgeries and radiation therapies. For more information or to find a physician and schedule a mammogram visit or call (866) 366-PINK.

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