Know When to Get Checked for Breast Cancer

Many cancers can be caught before you have symptoms. And the earlier the cancer is detected, the better your options are for treatments and the better your chances of beating the disease.

Breast cancer is no different. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About one in eight women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer during her life.

While these numbers are scary, there is good news: Mammograms can find breast cancer early, and most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

The American Cancer Society has recommended cancer screening guidelines for the “big four” cancers—colon, lung, prostate, and breast.

When it comes to breast cancer specifically, the American Cancer Society suggests:

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (X-rays of the breast), if they wish to do so
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening
  • Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer
  • All women should be familiar with the known linked to breast cancer screening
  • Some women, because of family history, genetic tendencies, or certain other factors, should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms

It’s important that women of any age know how their breasts normally look and feel so they can report any breast changes to a health care provider immediately. Talk with a health care provider about your risk of breast cancer, considering all of your potential risk factors, and work together to find the best screening plan for you.

Regardless of age, there are lifestyle choices that can affect your overall health, as well as your risk of developing cancer. Here are healthy lifestyle choices that can help lower your cancer risk, from the American Cancer Society:

  • Avoid tobacco. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco products, quit! Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 if you are having trouble quitting on your own. Also, stay away from secondhand smoke, because it can cause cancer, too
  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of many types of cancer. Avoid excessive weight gain throughout your life, and balance the number of calories you eat with the amount of physical activity you do
  • Exercise often. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, or a combination of both spread throughout the week
  • Eat healthy. You should eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day, because they contain many vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other substances that are good for your body
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day

If you’re looking for more information on the specific lifestyle choices and habits that can lower your risk of cancer, see the American Cancer Society’s Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

It might seem like everything can cause cancer these days. But you can take action to lower your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices and getting screenings regularly!