October is breast cancer awareness month. Even though breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in the United States, millions of women are surviving the disease thanks to early detection and improvements in treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized state, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100 percent. That’s why it is so important to have an early breast cancer detection plan, which includes a mammogram.
The American Cancer Society recommends women use the following guidelines when scheduling their mammograms:
- Women age 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women age 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
A word about breast self exams
According to the American Cancer Society, research does not show a clear benefit to performing breast self-examination. However, women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to their healthcare provider right away.
Signs and symptoms to watch for
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of the breast
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, irritation, dimpling or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple (other than breast milk)
Schedule your mammogram
If you haven’t had your mammogram this year, this month is a good time to schedule one. It’s also a good time to talk about breast health with your mother, daughter, sister, aunts and friends.
Another good idea for your health
You can make getting in to see the doctor or getting in for a mammogram easier by signing up for CarePlus. It’s a free concierge healthcare service that makes taking care of your health easier and more convenient. When you sign up for CarePlus, a concierge team is at your service ready to help you:
- find the right doctor for you
- quickly get the appointments you need
- get faster access to your medical information—like lab results
- obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
- work with your insurer to answer your insurance questions
To learn more, or to sign up for CarePlus concierge service, please contact our CarePlus team at 201-884-5329.