October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month for women as well as men. Pink abounds on posters, T-shirts, wristbands, and football cleats.
There are multiple agencies and medical organizations with varying recommendations on how often and at what age women, in particular, should be screened for breast cancer with mammography. The United States Preventative Task Force recommends women age 50 to 74 have biennial mammogram screening. The American Cancer Society guidelines state women of “average risk” begin screening mammograms between age 40 and 44 years. Women between the ages of 45 and 54 should have a mammogram yearly, and those 55 and older should undergo a mammogram every two years.
Men, on the other hand, should undergo testing if they are genetically predisposed to breast cancer or if they find a lump or abnormality in a breast. Men have much less breast tissue than women, making breast cancer in men much less likely (American Cancer Society, 2018).
With these recommendations come personal choice. All females, regardless of age, need to be keenly aware of their bodies and changes that may occur throughout the lifespan. Self-breast examination, which is recommended as a monthly routine, is often how women discover a lump, skin change, or nipple inversion prompting them to seek a mammogram. A yearly clinical breast exam, performed by a health care provider, is recommended as well (American Cancer Society, 2018).
With breast health knowledge covered, what else do women need to be aware of regarding their health? Although breast cancer awareness, especially for women, gets a great deal of press, heart disease is actually the number one killer according to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2015 report. Breast and cervical cancer come in number two for all cause death for women in the U.S.
With these rankings in mind, keeping up with annual health screening such as cholesterol, thyroid, and blood sugar levels as well as Pap smear and pelvic exam is vitally important for women. Having a primary health care provider is imperative to receive the screening and ongoing wellness and disease prevention education necessary to stay healthy.
Go on and wear pink, be aware of the risks of breast cancer and ways to screen for it, and remember, your entire being is important: BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT! Live blessed!