Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Why Early Detection Matters

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness about the risks and signs of breast cancer as well as methods for diagnosing breast cancer during its earlier and more treatable stages. In this article we will discuss statistics around breast cancer, what early detection is, and why early detection matters.

What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a national campaign designed to raise awareness about all aspects of breast cancer, but most importantly to stress the importance of diagnosing breast cancer early. The goal? Make a difference! Spread the word about mammograms and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

Breast Cancer Statistics

  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

  • Over 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2019.

  • Over 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2019, though death rates for breast cancer have been decreasing for the past few decades.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

There are a few different risk factors that may increase your chances of developing the disease.

  • Age. The chances of getting breast cancer increase as women age, with more than 80 percent of breast cancer cases occurring in women over 50.

  • Family history of breast cancer. 

  • Genetic factors. Some genetic mutations can contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer. 

What is early detection?

Early detection refers to the detection of breast cancer while it is in its earliest stages, such as stage 1 or stage 2, when it is easiest to treat. Early detection is key in the treatment of breast cancer, and can be literally life-saving for many patients. There are a wide range of different diagnostic tests and imaging techniques that can screen for breast cancer in these early stages before it presents symptoms and when the disease is easiest to treat, giving patients a better chance at beating breast cancer. 

Recommended Screening Guidelines:

The most important screening test for breast cancer is the mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast. It can detect breast cancer up to two years before any mass can be felt or symptoms present. There’s a lot of controversy over when women should start receiving mammograms and how frequently they should get them, but general guidelines are as follows:

  • Women age 40 should have a mammogram once a year.

  • Women at high risk should have yearly mammograms beginning at 30.

When it comes to breast cancer, early detection literally saves lives. Too often, women are waiting for symptoms of breast cancer to present before visiting their doctors. If you are looking to schedule a mammogram in San Francisco, contact the imaging specialists at BICRAD today!