October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this time, health care systems and organizations aim to provide education, resources, support and prevention information regarding the disease.
The American Cancer Society (ACS), offers these statistics about breast cancer:
- Among cancers in American women, breast cancer is one of the most diagnosed, second only to skin cancer.
- Breast cancer makes up about 30% of all female cancer cases.
- In 2022, nearly 340,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer; more than 43,000 women will die from the disease.
- Although the incidence rates of breast cancer have increased slightly in recent years (0.5% per year), the death rates in older women (age 50 and older) have gone down by 1% per year.
“Early detection is important because there are more treatment options available and a better chance of survival when breast cancer is caught early,” said Charissa Williams, APN, a ThedaCare Hematology & Oncology Specialist. “Studies show there’s a more than 90% survival rate, if the tumor is caught early.”
Regular self-breast exams are one way to detect a cancerous tumor. A breast cancer screening is another way. Mammograms can spot tiny tumors, making it more likely to catch the disease at an earlier stage.
“For most women, screening mammography is a safe and effective way to detect breast cancer early,” Williams added.
Medical organizations vary on the best age to start screening mammograms (some say as early as age 40) and how often to repeat them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a comparative chart, Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women, to better sort out the timing and frequency of mammogram screening based on your particular situation.
“It is important to discuss your individual screening guidelines with your primary care provider,” said Williams. “For example, those who have a strong family history or certain genetic mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2) often have earlier screening guidelines than the general population.”
Women might also help minimize their chances of developing the disease by modifying their lifestyle. However, Williams notes there are some risks factors that cannot be changed: your age, family history, genetics, race, and being a woman.
“There are several modifiable factors that can increase your breast cancer risk, including obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, alcohol and tobacco use, and certain types of hormone replacement therapy,” she said.
To reduce your risk of breast cancer, Williams suggests you form these habits:
- Maintain a healthy weight; ask your provider for guidance on how to achieve that goal.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly, at least 150 minutes per week, or better yet, moving four to seven hours per week, at a moderate or intense level.
- Limit alcohol to one drink per day.
- Breastfeed for new mothers.
- Reduce postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.
There are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
For more information on breast cancer prevention tips, screenings and treatments, visit thedacare.org/breast-cancer.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.