hands holding pink ribbon during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Mammogram 101

Approximately 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point, the second most common kind of cancer in women2. The month of October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about steps women can take to decrease their risk and to detect this disease, including having a mammogram.

If you are a woman who is age 40 through 49, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises1 that you talk with your doctor about a plan for your breast health, including when to get a mammogram.

If you are a woman who is age 50 to 74, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises1that you get mammograms every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.

Here are some questions to help you start the conversation with your doctor about mammograms:
  • Do I have risk factors for breast cancer?
  • Based on my risk factors, what are my chances of getting breast cancer?
  • What will happen when I go to get mammograms?
  • How long will it take to get the results of my mammograms?
  • If I don’t hear back about the results of my mammograms, does that mean everything is okay?
If you are under age 50, you might want to ask:
  • Should I start getting regular mammograms? If so, how often?
  • What are the pros and cons of getting mammograms before age 50?
If you are between ages 50 and 74, you might want to ask:
  • How often should I get mammograms?
  • What are the pros and cons of getting mammograms every 2 years instead of every year?

While most women can survive breast cancer if it’s detected and treated early 1, there are several lifestyle factors that your clients should consider when assessing risk, including:

  • Consuming dairy (with risk of death increasing for those who continue to consumer dairy after diagnosis)3
  • Being overweight or obese4
  • Not being physically active4
  • Regularly drinking alcohol5
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy5
  • Taking hormonal birth control4

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1: “Mammograms: Questions for the Doctor.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/doctor-visits/talking-with-the-doctor/mammograms-questions-for-the-doctor

2: “October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/OctoberToolkit.aspx

3: “High – and Low-Fat Dairy Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality After Breast Cancer Diagnosis.” Candyce H. Kroenke Marilyn L. Kwan Carol Sweeney Adrienne Castillo Bette J. Caanhttps://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/105/9/616/986948/High-and-Low-Fat-Dairy-Intake-Recurrence-and

4: “Lifestyle-Related Breast Cancer Risk Factors.” American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/risk-and-prevention/lifestyle-related-breast-cancer-risk-factors.html

5: “Lifestyle: How Our Lifestyle and Choices Affect Breast Cancer Risk.” Breast Cancer Now. http://breastcancernow.org/about-breast-cancer/what-can-cause-breast-cancer/lifestyle




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