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October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

While most of us are generally aware of breast cancer, many fail to take the necessary steps to check for possible signs of the disease in its earliest stages.

The American Cancer Society reminds us that finding breast cancer early and receiving treatment are the most effective ways to prevent breast cancer deaths. Breast cancer that is detected early, when it's small and hasn't spread, is easier to treat with a positive outcome.

Getting regular screenings is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society has screening guidelines for women at average risk of breast cancer, and for those at high risk for breast cancer.

Screenings for breast cancer are designed to find any traces of the disease before they cause symptoms (like a lump). Screenings refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don't have any symptoms. Early detection means finding and diagnosing a disease earlier than if you'd waited for symptoms to start.

The American Cancer Society has developed the following guidelines for women at average risk for breast cancer - meaning they do not have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer and have not had chest radiation therapy before age 30.

  • Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about breast cancer screening, especially if there is a history of breast cancer or other types of cancer in your family. And learn more about cancer detection, prevention and treatment on the American Cancer Society website.

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