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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we want to spread the word on the importance of getting screened. For more than 20 years the VA has led the nation in breast cancer screenings and has focused on coordination of care and improving access to screenings.
Each year, about 200,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the second most common cancer in women. In other words, approximately one in eight females will develop breast cancer at some point in life. That’s why it’s important to get screened and learn about the risk factors.
Early detection and knowing how to lower your chances of getting breast cancer can help you and your loved ones live healthy lives. Both men and women can develop breast cancer, though male breast cancer is less common.
Breast cancer risk factors include:
- Having a close family member with breast cancer
- Not exercising and having certain gene mutations
- Getting older
- Being overweight or obese
- Previous radiation therapy/exposure to the breasts or chest
By maintaining a healthy weight, getting exercise regularly, and limiting alcohol consumption you can help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
VHA Guidance states: Women aged 45 to 54 years should be screened annually, Women 55 years and older should transition to biennial screening or have the opportunity to continue screening annually, and Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 years. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and is one of the most common screenings for breast cancer. Routine screenings can often find breast cancer early and make treatment more successful.
The VA provides mammograms for all Veterans, with 45 facilities providing on-site services using digital mammography along with mobile mammography, allowing Veterans in rural areas of the country to get screenings and have their mammograms read by a VA breast radiologist, without traveling far from home.
By talking to your health care provider and knowing the proper precautions to take, you and your loved ones can live healthy lives. Remember that early detection is the key in helping your chances of surviving breast cancer.
Below are resources that can help you and your family learn more about breast cancer.
Resources – (click to open in new tab)
Breast Cancer – MyHealtheVet
Breast Cancer Awareness – VA’s Women Veterans Health Care
Personal Success Stories — Breast Cancer – MyHealtheVet
What Is Breast Cancer? – Veterans Health Library