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Understanding breast cancer: Risk factors, screening, and prevention

October 1, 2021
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of this holiday is to raise awareness of the impact of breast cancer. It is also a time to remind people about breast cancer prevention and screenings.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, according to the CDC. While 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer by age 80, the risk increases with age. Most women are diagnosed after age 50, according to the CDC.

Women with a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer are also more at risk. There are several other risk factors, including:

This is not a complete list. Some people will get breast cancer even without any risk factors.

Breast Cancer Screening

It’s very important to catch breast cancer early through self-exams or mammograms. A screening mammogram is used to look for breast cancer in women who do not have symptoms.

A diagnostic mammogram is for women who have symptoms, such as a lump or breast pain. Women ages 50 to 74 should have screening mammograms every two years. Women younger than 50 years should talk to their healthcare provider to decide if earlier or more frequent testing should be done.

For more information on breast cancer symptoms, risk factors, and how to lower your risk, visit this CDC webpage.1

1 When you click this link, you will leave the Commonwealth Care Alliance website.

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