In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is as good a time as any to make sure you’re educated on the risks and early signs of this disease to help keep yourself or your loved ones healthy. While breast cancer is not preventable, there are several ways to help stay protected and minimize the effect of this potentially deadly condition.
Eighty percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women over the age of 50, with 60% found in women over the age of 65. A woman’s risk of breast cancer tends to increase with age—which makes regular screening and early detection all the more important.
For women between the ages of 50 and 74 years old, a mammogram screening is recommended every two years. This X-ray exam is usually covered by insurance with no out-of-pocket costs, and is the most effective way to detect any signs of cancer as early as possible.
In addition to regular screenings by a professional, it’s important for everyone to be aware of some of the early warning signs of breast cancer, and bring them to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible. Common warning signs include:
- Lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Pain in the nipple or breast
- Redness or discharge from the nipple
- Any change in the size or shape of the breast
While most incidences of breast cancer are found in women, men are not immune to the disease. It’s important for everyone to be aware of the risk factors and know how to identify early signs in themselves, their partner, or a loved one they care for. This month, educate yourself and promote lifelong health.