Why every month is breast cancer awareness month
Our gynecologists at Optum Medical Care, P.C. for women of all ages, starting from late teens through older adulthood. Each stage of a woman’s life brings new health concerns from menstruation through menopause, birth control and pregnancy, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Breast health and disease are concerns for women at every stage of their lives. During their mid-40s, pre- and post-menopausal women, especially those with a family history or other risk factors are more likely to be concerned about breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S. Each year about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women.1
Although deaths from breast cancer have significantly declined over time due to early detection using mammograms and the advances in cancer treatment,2 breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall.1,3 In addition, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women,4 and Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women.1,3
The month of October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a health observance that reminds us to get our exams and our mammograms, to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors for breast cancer, as well as the steps we can take to improve our health and help lower the risk of getting breast cancer. But in reality, breast cancer awareness should be a year-round priority.
Breast cancer can occur in women of all ages, although risk increases with age, and it can occur as well in men. The incidence of breast cancer is considerably lower in men and younger women, than in women over 50, but nevertheless, health care professionals are increasingly encouraging breast cancer awareness in adult women and men of all ages.
The key to awareness is asking basic questions. Below are among the most commonly asked questions about breast cancer. For women of all ages, speaking with your OB/GYN is a good place to start. And men should not be shy to discuss their risk of breast cancer during annual exams with their primary care physicians.
- What should I do if I feel a breast lump? Does breast cancer have any symptoms? 1
- What are some of the key risk factors for developing breast cancer? 1
- What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer? 1
- What age should I start getting breast exams and what age should I start having a mammogram? How often should I get screened? Am I a candidate for additional testing such as a breast ultrasound or MRI? 1
- Should I delay cancer screening because of the COVID-19 pandemic? 5
Most clinics and providers are offering breast cancer screenings again and have precautions in place to make sure screenings are done as safely as possible. If you have concerns, reach out to your health care team to ask about safety measures they’ve taken for your protection, and review the risks and benefits to determine the best and safest strategy for you.
Please do not delay cancer screening when it can save your life! Be proactive and get screened!
The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.
- Basic Information About Breast Cancer. Last reviewed September 26, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/statistics/index.htm. Last reviewed June 6, 2022. Accessed April 27, 2023.
- Key Statistics for Breast Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/how-common-is-breast-cancer.html. Last revised January 12, 2023. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- Breast Cancer Facts and Statistics. https://www.breastcancer.org/facts-statistics. Last updated January 18, 2023. Accessed April 12, 2023.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Screening & COVID-19. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-during-covid-19-pandemic.html. Last revised. November 17, 2021. Accessed April 27, 2023.
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