October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) – a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services. Although October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the National Breast Cancer Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and educating individuals about breast cancer throughout the year.
Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer. A family history or genetic factors can also increase the risk. The risk also increases as women age – about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older. There are many additional risk factors – learn more about breast cancer risk factors.
Also see: Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. They recommend clinical breast exams (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s, and say that women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
Find a low cost screening location near you:
National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP)
Mammography Saves Lives
Breast Cancer Prevention
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer best practices for prevention.
- Get screened for breast cancer regularly. By getting regular exams, you’re more likely to find breast cancer early.
- Control your weight and exercise. Make healthy choices in the foods you eat and the kinds of drinks you have each day. Stay active. Learn more about keeping a healthy weight and ways to increase your physical activity.
- Know your family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter with breast cancer, ask your doctor what is your risk of getting breast cancer and how you can lower your risk.
- Find out the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Some women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat the symptoms of menopause. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT and find out if it is right for you. To learn more about HRT, visit the National Cancer Institute (NCI)—Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
Study Links Walking to Lower Breast Cancer Risk – Researchers from the American Cancer Society have found that walking at least 7 hours per week is associated with a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. This finding is consistent with many other studies that show regular exercise can help women lower their risk of breast cancer. New information in this study found the exercise helped women whether or not they were overweight, and helped them even if they gained weight during the study.
Mayo Clinic: Breast cancer prevention: How to reduce your risk – Breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits — such as limiting alcohol and staying physically active. Understand what you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk.