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Breast Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society (ACS), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Susan G Komen for the Cure and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) agree mammography screening, followed by timely treatment when breast cancer is diagnosed, saves lives.

There has been considerable discussion and many scientific studies over the most appropriate age to begin breast cancer screening and the frequency of the exams. ACS, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, NCI, among others all agree that women should start annual mammography screening at age 40. ACS and Komen recommend yearly clinical breast exam (CBE) in combination with mammography. In addition, breast self-awareness is important so that women are familiar with what is “normal” for them. See your health care provider if you notice any changes in your breasts. For more information go to http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-detection

Health care providers and women should work together to promote informed decision-making, to determine what type of screening is appropriate for them and the age at which screening should begin. If you have identified risk factor(s), your health care provider may recommend earlier or more frequent screening.

What affects your risk of getting breast cancer?
Some women have many risk factors, but never get breast cancer. And, some women have few or no risk factors, but do get the disease. Being a woman and growing older are the two biggest risk factors for breast cancer. The longer you live, the higher your risk of breast cancer and many other things both bad and good.

In Colorado, the chance of getting breast cancer over the course of a lifetime is 1 in 7, assuming you live to age 90. If you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk of developing it again is higher than if you have never had the disease. Family history of breast cancer can have a significant impact on risk, but not every case of breast cancer in your family means you are a high-risk candidate. Scientists at the National Cancer Institute have developed a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool available at http://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool/ The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool was designed for use by health professionals. If you are not a health professional, you are encouraged to discuss the results and your personal risk of breast cancer with your health care provider. If you have questions about your risk factors, or if you have been diagnosed and have questions about risk factors for your family, talk with your health care team.

There are some risk factors you can control, and others you cannot. Even if you do not have any of these risk factors, you can still develop breast cancer.
For more information on understanding your risks, go to: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/LowerYourRisk.html

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