Breast Cancer Awareness

Kathleen Belusko, PharmD Student 2013

APPE #4- HHSI Ambulatory Care

            Breast cancer is the #1 type of cancer occurring in women and the #2 deadliest—second only to lung cancer—and one of the few cancers that can be detected early by screening.  By now, most women know that it is important to receive regular screenings for breast cancer starting in adulthood. Breast cancer is often easier to treat when it is caught in its early stages. Breast self-exams and screening tests that use x-rays to examine the breasts, known as mammograms, make it possible to detect early forms of cancer. Regular screenings are shown to save lives!

            So, who should be screened and when? The American Cancer Society recommends the following:

·    Women should begin thinking about breast health in their 20s and 30s. Clinical breast exams, performed by a primary care provider (PCP), or often by a gynecologist, should occur every 3 years for women in this age group. Your provider will examine how your breasts look and feel and can detect anything unusual or recommend follow-up tests, if needed.

·    Women over the age of 40 should have a clinical breast exam every year.

·    Women over the age of 40 should also receive a mammogram every year.

·    Women of any age should report any changes in the way their breasts look and feel to their health care provider.

·    A very small number of women may need to be tested more often or receive a test called an MRI as well as regular mammograms. These women may be at greater risk due to factors like family history. Your health care provider can help you decide if you should receive any extra testing.

It is important that women take advantage of these tests, and have a discussion about breast health with their doctors or other health providers. For more information on any of these screening tests, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.org, and click “Find Cancer Early.” You can also browse their brochure, Breast Cancer: Early Detection online for more information on the importance of screening.

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