This October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.
The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. A mammogram allows the doctor to have a closer look for changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt during a breast exam.
- If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
- If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.
Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms. You may be at higher risk for developing these types of cancer. Genetic counseling and genetic testing can help you understand your risk for cancer. Doctors don’t recommend genetic testing for all women, but you may want to consider it if:
- Two or more of your close family members (such as parents, sisters, or children) have had breast or ovarian cancer
- A close family member had breast cancer before age 50
- A close family member has had cancer in both breasts
- A family member had both breast and ovarian cancer
- You have Eastern European Jewish heritage
Genetic testing can’t tell you if you will get cancer or not, but it can show if you have a higher risk. If you do, you can get treatment to help lower your risk.
Schedule a well-woman visit with your provider. The well-woman visit is an important way to help you stay healthy. Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:
- Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
- Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
- Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions
What happens during a well-woman visit?
Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:
- Documenting your health habits and history
- Getting a physical exam
- Setting health goals