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Screening Saves Lives: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We’re in the retirement business at Brandermill Woods, but a big part of helping people achieve the retirement they’ve always dreamed of means providing health care and health resources—not only to our residents, but to their loved ones and our greater community here in Richmond, Virginia.

That’s why we’re excited to promote October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. According to BreastCancer.org, one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, and breast cancer death rates are higher than those for nearly any other cancer.

We’re big proponents of healthy lifestyles. That means eating well (including an abundance of fruits and vegetables every day), exercising (even if it’s just a 30-minute daily walk) and making routine visits to a health-care professional to monitor things like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and the like.

Because of the high prevalence of breast cancer, we strongly urge routine screenings to the short list of must-do activities for any woman, but particularly women older than 40. Recent years have seen a wealth of life-saving advances in treatment advances, but treatment is most effective if the cancer is caught early, before it spreads to other parts of the body. Catching breast cancer early requires regular screening.

Breast Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Self-examination should be a part of every woman’s monthly health care routine. If you experience anything unusual such as lumps, tenderness or changes to skin texture of the breast, be sure to contact your health-care provider. (It’s important to remember, however, that while your doctor should investigate any lump, not all lumps are cancerous.)

In addition to self-examination, it is recommended that women 40 and older should have a mammogram every 1-2 years. Mammograms—or X-rays of the breast—can reveal lumps that are too small to feel, as well as micro-calcifications (tiny clusters of calcium) that could be a sign of abnormal cells.

If your doctor finds abnormal cells, he or she will likely order a biopsy, in which a small slice of cells is sent to a lab for examination. If cancer is present, it is often treatable if it has not metastasized (spread to other areas of the body)—therefore, routine screening equals early detection equals better prognosis.

Important Resources for Women (and Men!) of All Ages

In 2017, more than a quarter-million new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women, as well as more than 60,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Men, too, can get breast cancer, so they should perform self-examinations as well. Thankfully, death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing for nearly 30 years—due in large part to awareness and early diagnosis.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a number of resources to help promote awareness, and to educate Americans about diagnosis, treatment and prevention of breast cancer. Visit the organization’s website for important information about signs & symptoms, performing a self-examination, the latest recommendations for mammograms and resources for healthier living.

Take time this month to educate yourself and, if it’s not already part of your routine, to perform a self-examination.