Breast Cancer - Facts for Women to Know

TAWAS CITY, MI - About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

In recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, physician Lisa WintonLi, MD, breast surgeon and oncology services medical director for Ascension St. Joseph, shares some of the top things women should know about breast cancer.

SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT BREAST CANCER:

  • The risk for breast cancer increases with age, as most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer, it raises your chances for developing it. However, about 85 percent of women diagnosed have no family history.
  • Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States.
  • Early detection through self-exams and mammogram screening can save your life.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE SELF-BREAST EXAMS?

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends a yearly clinical breast exam by your provider.
  • Recommendations vary on the importance of monthly self-breast exams, but flag your health care provider if you feel there is any change in your breasts.
  • No matter your risk, early detection through self-exams and mammogram screenings is key to catching cancer when treatment has the best chance of being effective.

WHAT ARE THE LATEST BREAST CANCER SCREENING GUIDELINES?

  • The American Cancer Society recommends women follow these breast cancer screening guidelines to find cancer before a woman has any symptoms:
  • Age 40-44: Begin annual breast cancer screenings with mammograms
  • Ages 45-54: Continue annual mammograms
  • Ages 55 and older: Switch to bi-annual mammograms or continue with annual mammograms depending on your risk factors. Screenings should continue if a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

WHAT CAN WOMEN DO TO BE PROACTIVE IN CONTROLLING RISK FACTORS?

  • You can’t control your genetics or avoid getting older. But there are ways to be proactive about controlling your risks factors:
    • Eat a healthy diet. Limit highly processed foods and opt for lean meats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.
    • Exercise regularly, don’t smoke and limit alcohol consumption.
    • See your doctor for annual well-checks.

Dr. WintonLi also sees patients at Ascension St. Mary's Seton Cancer Institute located in West Branch, Saginaw and Marlette.

If you are in need of a physician, visit GetAscensionMichiganCare.com to locate a health provider.