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FOR YOUR HEALTH - Knowing breast cancer risks can aid prevention

By Pat Fisher | health | October 22, 2013

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer is a killer at its worst, but the more people who are aware of the disease, the more lives that can be saved with early detection and avoidance of controllable risk factors.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. About one in eight, or about 12 percent, of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.

The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the U.S. for 2013 are:

• More than 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.

• About 64,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ, or CIS, will be diagnosed. CIS is noninvasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer.

• About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.

Ramona Derousseau and Coleen Kiefer, nurse practitioners, Women's Wellness Clinic, Irwin Army Community Hospital, recently provided some advice for women about breast cancer.

"All women over 40 should get a mammogram every two years until age 50, and then every year. Women with a Family history of breast cancer should get a baseline mammogram 10 years prior to the age that their relative was diagnosed," Derousseau said.

For instance, if you had an aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38, she said, then you should get a baseline mammogram at age 28.

All eligible Fort Riley women, dependent and active duty, can schedule a consultation during their annual well woman visit at IACH by calling 785-239-DOCS.

Thanks to earlier detection through screening, increased awareness and improved treatment, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50.

Can breast cancer be detected early?

Breast cancers that are found because they can be felt tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be small and still confined to the breast. The size of breast cancer and how far it has spread are important factors in predicting the prognosis for a woman with the disease.

Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of a periodic health exam by a health professional, at least every three years.

Risk factors for breast cancer you cannot change:

• Gender

• Aging

• Genetics

• Ethnicity

• Race

• Dense breast tissue

Controllable lifestyle-related risk factors:

• Having children

• Birth control

• Hormone therapy after menopause

• Breastfeeding

• Drinking alcohol

• Being overweight or obese

• Physical activity

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