FEATURE — In one year, approximately 40,610 women will die from advanced breast cancer in the United States. Approximately 3,180 of those deaths will be in Utah.
According to the Utah Department of Health, breast cancer kills more women in Utah than any other cancer. With Utah’s breast cancer screening rate 7.8 percent lower than the national average, informing women on the benefits of mammography is crucial.
In a recent clinical trial, routine screening can reduce breast cancer mortality by 20 percent among women with an average risk.
Annual mammograms can detect changes in breast tissue that could be cancerous years before any physical symptoms develop.
Understanding your personal risk factors, family history and screening recommendations will help make the best screening plan for you.
What are risk factors of breast cancer?
Revere Health oncologist, Dr. Joseph Te, said, “Be familiar with your risk factors, understand your family history, your physical features and hormonal balances. Together with your physician, we can create a plan that decreases your risk of developing breast cancer.”
These risk factors include:
- Age: As women age, they develop an increased risk of breast cancer. Risk levels increase after age 40 and are at their highest risk level over age 70.
- Weight: Postmenopausal women with an increased body mass index have a higher risk.
- Breast density: Women with high breast density are at greater risk due to the increased amount of breast and connective tissue compared to fat.
- Estrogen levels: Higher amounts of estrogen in the blood has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
- Radiation exposure: The earlier you have are exposed to radiation the higher the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Genetics: Gene defects are thought to be the cause of nearly 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers.
- Menstruation: Young girls who start menstruation before 12 years old and women who start menopause after age 55 are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
- Motherhood: Women who never had children or had children after the age of 35 are at an increased risk.
Regular mammograms can pick up 85 percent of breast cancer and lead to an early diagnosis that saves lives.
“In our clinic, we see patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer due to their annual mammogram and are able to be cured if diagnosed early,” Te said. “Sometimes these patients are able to avoid chemotherapy during treatment, altogether.”
Te offers a few screening suggestions:
- Individuals younger than 40 years old do not need a screening unless they have identified high-risk factors.
- Individuals between 40 and 74 years old should consult with their health care provider to build a screening plan.
- Individuals 75 and older should receive a mammogram only if their life expectancy is 10 years.
The good news is that small changes to your lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers discovered small lifestyle modifications help reduce breast cancer diagnosis by 34 percent in postmenopausal women.
Those small lifestyle changes include:
- Abstain from alcohol and smoking.
- Be aware of radiation exposure.
- Avoid working night shifts.
- Avoid postmenopausal hormone use.
Multiple factors come into play when determining your likelihood of developing breast cancer. Consulting with your health care provider about lifestyle and risk factors will help you create a personalized plan for prevention.
“The key to averting breast cancer deaths is through physician-recommended screening plans and knowledge of your risk factors,” Te said . “We can detect, treat and cure breast cancer if discovered in its early stages.”
Get in touch with your health care provider today to take proper precautions to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Revere Health St. George Hematology-Oncology | Address: 2019 E. Riverside Drive, No. A200, St. George | Telephone 435-628-9298.
- Other Revere Health clinics throughout Utah.