Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women. And while it’s never good news to get a cancer prognosis, the good thing is that it’s highly treatable when detected early on. But are you doing enough to stay on top of your health?
Breast Cancer Survival Rates
When you look at the survival rates of different types of cancer, breast cancer has come a long way over the past 25 years. This is thanks, in large part, to the publicity and fundraising various organizations have received, but also speaks to the amount of research and awareness that’s been poured into early detection.
It’s when breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body that it becomes much more difficult to treat. Those with metastatic, or stage IV breast cancer, have a five-year survival rate of just 22 percent.
Clearly, the earlier you can detect breast cancer, the better. If you can catch it before it spreads to other areas, you’ll have a great chance of surviving. The problem is that many women don’t do enough when it comes to early detection.
How to Detect Breast Cancer Sooner
You are your greatest resource in detecting breast cancer. In order to spot it earlier, you must take a proactive approach. Here are some suggestions:
1. Check Yourself Once a Month
The best way to detect cancer is by physically examining your breasts on a regular basis. Don’t know what cancer feels like? According to Rush University Medical Center, it could be “anything from a rubbery, movable lump to a firm, fluid-filled sac to a solid, irregularly shaped bump. A monthly breast self-exam is the best way to get to know what’s normal for you and quickly spot any changes. A mammogram, as recommended by your doctor, is even better, because it can detect a lump before you can feel it.”
2. Go Digital With Your Mammogram
Doctors usually suggest getting an annual mammogram when you’re over the age of 40, but don’t wait until you’re this age. Sure, a mammogram isn’t comfortable, but it’s much better to go through the process of getting checked than it is to have cancer creep up on you.
When you do get a mammogram, where you go and the technology used does matter. It’s best to choose an experienced and specialized doctor over a general technician with little experience. It’s also advised that you get a digital mammogram, which is more accurate.
3. Understand Your Risk Level
It’s important that you understand your risk level for getting breast cancer. Being a woman is obviously the leading risk factor, but other elements come into play.
For example, women over the age of 55 account for two-thirds of all invasive breast cancer diagnoses. Then there’s family history, genetics, race and ethnicity, history of breastfeeding, and more. Breast cancer can develop in anyone, but just make sure you know if you have a high-risk factor. This will allow you to be more aware of what’s happening with your body.
Stay On Top of Your Health
There’s nothing more important than your health. And while millions of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives, the majority will survive. Want to know your greatest factor in survival? Early detection. Be smart and don’t ignore your health.