October marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. This annual campaign provides awareness and information about the disease and stresses the importance of yearly screenings. The Middlesex County Office of Health Services is proud to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women after skin cancer. 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. Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer
, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast.
Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, but it's important to remember that the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.
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. Even if you have no or limited health insurance, you could qualify for a free screening with the Middlesex County Cancer Education and Early Detection (CEED) program.
- 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.
What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. The following are steps you can take to lower your risk:
- Limit alcohol. The general recommendation is to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day as even small amounts increase risk.
- Don't smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
- Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
- Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
For more information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and how to reduce your risk, visit one of our partners: