October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Use this reminder to make sure that you are up to date in breast cancer screening and preventive measures. The three main breast-cancer screening tests are mammograms, clinical breast exams, and self breast exams. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines suggest that women between the ages of 50 and 74 should have a mammogram screening test every 2 years and that women between the ages of 40 and 49 should discuss with their doctor the time and frequency of screening tests. Guidelines can vary, however, and it is always recommended that every woman consult with her doctor first to discuss her family history of breast cancer and optimal screening frequency.
While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has determined that mammograms are the only proven way of decreasing the risk of dying from breast cancer, many women choose to supplement their mammogram testing with clinical and self breast exams. For detailed descriptions and guidelines for these tests, visit www.cancer.org. Other measures to help prevent breast cancer include maintaining a healthy diet and body weight and limiting alcohol consumption.
Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.