The Importance of Screening for Breast Cancer

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Vita Nuda would like to remind all of our readers about the importance of regular breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer among women in the U.S., according to the Susan G. Komen foundation. In 2013, it is estimated that there will be over 200,000 new cases of breast cancer and close to 40,000 deaths resulting from breast cancer. Even for survivors, this disease can take a huge toll on people’s physical and psychological wellbeing. However, breast cancer treatments, like most cancer treatments, benefit from early detection which is why it’s important to screen regularly for breast cancer.

Breast cancer screenings should be done regularly by women over 40 and there are three options for screening. Self-massages can be done often and in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Clinical breast exams are another tool for finding unusual lumps and detect any cancer that may be forming. These techniques, however, are not as effective as mammograms. However, it is recommended that mammograms are performed once every three years, as they involve X-Ray radiation and can be dangerous in and of itself if done in excess. However, yearly mammograms or mammograms three times a year should be safe.

If you think it may not be in your budget, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) requires that health insurers cover mammograms, with no cost to the recipient, every one to two years for women over 40. Medicare will completely pay for mammograms once every year with no upper age limits.

Also worth noting that breast cancer isn’t only found in women. Some men can get breast cancer as well. Typically, screening isn’t recommended for men because there is a low chance that men can get it. Men can be at higher risk, though, if they have inherited a gene mutation or if they have a strong family history of breast cancer. If that is the case, men should be screened at the same frequency as women.

Next time you see your doctor, talk to him or her to find out what kind of screening is appropriate for you or a family member.