Moody HAWC recognizes October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Amelia Matthews
  • Health and Wellness Center health education program manager
The 23rd Medical Group Health and Wellness Center recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month during October and it is appropriate to dedicate this article to the women who are currently living with or those who have previously had this disease. 

Cancers are a group of diseases that cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancerous cells eventually form a lump or mass called a tumor and are named after the part of the body where the tumor originates. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women in the United States, with one woman being diagnosed every two minutes. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in America. 

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. However, there are steps all women can take that can reduce their risk and help increase the odds that if cancer does occur, it is found at an early, more treatable stage. 

You can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by changing those risk factors that you can control. Maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol use and quitting tobacco use are just a few ways to reduce your risk. 

Additionally, women who choose to breast-feed, even for a few months, may also decrease their risk for developing breast cancer. 

Other than lifestyle changes, the most important action a woman can take is to follow early detection guidelines. 

Females in their 20s and 30s should have a clinic breast exam performed by a health professional every three years. Those 40 years old and older should have a CBE and a screening mammogram every one to two years. Women 50 years old and older should have a CBE and a screening mammogram every year. 

Everyone should know how their breasts normally look and feel and any unusual changes should be reported promptly to their health care provider. 

Women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, such as those with a family history, genetic tendency or those with past breast cancer should talk with their doctor about the benefits and limitations of starting mammography screenings earlier and having additional tests performed (breast ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging or MRI).