As most of us know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Additionally, October 13th is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. It is during this month that we encourage body awareness, preventative screenings, and continued support for breast cancer research. It is also a month that we consider just how many lives are touched by this disease; the survivors, those currently undergoing treatment(s), caregivers, those we have lost because of it….each of us has been shaped by breast cancer in some way.
I also encourage each of you to be aware and spread awareness of this, and all cancers, every month.
For women at “average risk”, the American Cancer Society recommends annual screening mammograms beginning at age 45. For those age 40-44, an informed personal choice is supported as it relates to mammography.
If a personal history exists, a first degree relative (parent, sibling, child) has a history of breast cancer or a known inherited gene mutation exists, screening recommendations change as you are now “high risk”. Per the American Cancer Society, those at high risk should get an MRI and mammogram beginning at age 30. If lifetime risk is assessed at under 20% (assessment tools based mainly on family history), annual MRI is not recommended.
If you’re not familiar with mammography, check out the advice Duluth Moms Blog readers received from a radiologist and breast specialist at St. Luke’s Breast Center.
I encourage each of you, male and female, to become familiar with your body and report any “new” or “unusual” lumps, bumps, discharge, pain, differences to your physician. Research has not shown that regular self exams help find breast cancer early when women are participating in regular mammograms, however, I would like to impress on you how important is it to be familiar with your body; how it looks, feels, reacts and report changes to your physician.
I also encourage you, if able, to speak to your family members about your medical history. All details are important!