Breast cancer consistently tops the list of health concerns for many women and fear of developing the disease can be a tremendous source of anxiety. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, I urge women to move beyond fear and into action by reducing personal breast cancer risk factors, having regular mammograms, and tuning in to breast changes that warrant further assessment.
There’s still a lot more to be done in the fight against breast cancer, but we have come a long way. The 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US serve as proof that more women are beating breast cancer than ever before. Women diagnosed with breast cancer also have a wider variety of breast-conserving treatments and reconstruction options to consider.
There’s a reason why so many doctors preach the gospel of living a healthy lifestyle. Almost 40% of the breast cancer cases in the US—about 70,000 cases a year—could be prevented if women maintained a healthy weight, exercised, and limited the amount of alcohol they drink.
In some instances, women who’ve done everything that they can to avoid breast cancer still develop the disease. This is why regular mammography screening is so critical. Mammograms are central to early detection before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The five-year survival rate for cancer caught at this stage is 98%, a compelling reason to get screened.
To learn more about taking control of your breast health, read ACOG’s “Spotlight on Breast Cancer.”