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Breast Cancer Screening

Stateman Journal Living Well - Octover 2015

Breast Cancer Screening

October means two things in America – Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness. And while the idea of both can be a little scary, knowledge, preparation and a little foresight can be the difference between trick and treat.

Breast cancer statistics can be frightening – research says 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. That's 12% of all the mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters you know. And yet, despite increased insurance coverage for screening mammography, public service campaigns and pink EVERYTHING during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, surveys suggest that In any given year, only 50% of women aged 40 to 85 years have a mammogram.

Early detection is still the biggest advantage a woman has against breast cancer. It sounds like a broken record, but it's advice that holds true.

Breast cancer screening habits should begin in a woman's 20s, with regular breast self-exams. Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.

Clinical breast exams are recommended at least every three years for women in their 20s and 30s. A clinical breast exam is done by a health care provider as part of a regular medical check-up. The  provider will carefully feel the breasts and underarm for any changes or abnormalities. If your provider doesn't offer a breast exam at your yearly pelvic exam – don't be afraid to remind them.

It's important for a woman to be an advocate for their own health. Being assertive as a young woman will empower her to be a partner in her own healthcare decisions throughout her entire life.