Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer is currently the most common cancer in non-smoking women. (While smoking increases the risk of breast cancer, lung cancer is more common in smokers). It is estimated that over a lifetime, one in eight American women will develop breast cancer. Currently mammogram techniques are felt to be the best way to screen most women for evidence of breast cancer.
Mammograms are recommended every one or two years beginning at age 40 and yearly after 50 for most women. Mammograms become more reliable as a woman ages and her breasts become less dense. Self breast exams should begin in the twenties and performed monthly thereafter. The self exam acts as a “safety net” to catch a mass that might not visualize on mammogram.
Many health care practitioners feel that prevention and diligence are the keys to “cure” breast cancer. A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise has been shown to reduce risk. Regular breast exams by a health care provider, along with a detailed family history can also increase early detection.