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Health Watch

Breast Cancer, Pinktober, and You

October is well under way, and so are annual efforts to bring more attention to breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women.

St. Louis Breast Cancer Screening
Don’t put off your mammogram. Schedule it now.

October, or pinktober, is the month designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is meant to increase awareness of breast cancer and the importance of breast cancer screenings, or mammograms. We will tweet a fact per day about breast cancer during the month of October. Follow us on Twitter at @WatsonImaging to get these daily tweets.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been observed since 1985 and a woman’s risk of dying of breast cancer dropped 39 percent between the late 1980s and 2015, the American Cancer Society says, which means efforts to bring awareness to the cancer and early detection of the cancer have worked.

Continued Importance of Getting Mammograms

Even though the rate of women dying of breast cancer has dropped in the past three decades, breast cancer awareness remains important because the most effective way to combat breast cancer is early detection. This detection usually comes in the form of a screening, or a mammogram.

Mammography has been around for more than 50 years and recent technology improvements have led to 3D mammography, which Watson Imaging Center offers. However, breast cancer can develop at any time, which is why mammograms are recommended on a regular basis for women over age 40 and annually for a woman between the ages of 45 and 55. Women should decide when to start receiving breast cancer screenings after discussing the topic with their doctor.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

While family history usually is used to determine a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer, the American Cancer Society calls attention to several lifestyle choices that appear to increase the risk of breast cancer:

  • Numerous studies have confirmed that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer in women by about 7%-10% for each one drink of alcohol consumed per day on average. Women who have 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day have a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to non-drinkers.
  • Obesity increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. The risk is about 1.5 times higher in overweight women and about 2 times higher in obese women than in lean women.
  • Growing evidence suggests that women who get regular physical activity have a 10%-25% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who are inactive, with stronger evidence for postmenopausal than premenopausal women.
  • Limited but accumulating research indicates that smoking may slightly increase breast cancer risk, particularly long-term, heavy smoking and among women who start smoking before their first pregnancy.

Because it is difficult to pinpoint precisely which women will develop breast cancer, mammograms remain the best form of early detection.

Advances in Mammography

It is hoped that recent advances in mammography will help detect breast cancer earlier. While 2D mammography has been in existence for more than 50 years, 3D mammography takes breast cancer detection to the next level. While some incidences of breast cancers still are undetectable through a mammogram, 3D mammography offers a higher chance of breast cancer detection. Up to 30% of cancers go undetected by standard mammography, and 52-76% of cancers are missed in dense breast tissue.

St Louis 3D mammography, or True Breast Tomosynthesis, takes pictures from more angles than a 2D mammogram can, creating a more complete picture of breasts and allowing for a clearer picture for doctors to read. Schedule your next mammogram at our St. Louis, Missouri location and get a True Breast Tomosynthesis mammogram and the greater peace of mind that comes with a 3D mammogram.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Several organizations have risen to the challenge of bringing awareness to breast cancer. They include the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Because of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the pink ribbon is the recognized symbol and pink is the recognized color for breast cancer awareness. The American Cancer Society funds 155 multi-year grants for breast cancer research for a total of $60.2 million. The American Cancer Society is hosting the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, which starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 27, in Forest Park in St. Louis.

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