According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it is estimated that there will be 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer among U.S. women in 2016. With the two most common risk factors being female and getting older, it is important for every woman to take proactive measures to help identify breast cancer in its earliest stage.
Most breast cancer diagnosis are found in women who are 50 years old or older so if you are caregiving for an older adult, it is important to take the proactive measures to detect it as early as possible.
Mammograms continue to be the best way to identify early breast cancer, however, not all breast cancer is identified through mammography. It is important to conduct monthly self-exams and pay attention of any changes in the look or feel of the breast. The warning signs are not the same for all women so it is important for the person you are caring for to pay close attention to any changes in the look or feel of the breast and nipple.
If identified through a routine mammogram, it is hopefully early enough where symptoms have not been felt and no physical changes have been seen, which may mean it will be easier to treat and not as advanced. The CDC recommends that most women who are 50 to 74 years old have a screening mammogram every two years. However, if you have a family history of breast cancer or have any concerns, it is important to discuss with your doctor to identify the best proactive measures for you and your personal health care plan.
If you are a caregiver, you need to be sure you are getting preventative checkups and self-screening as well.
If you or your loved one is concerned about the cost of a mammogram, there are free and low-cost options. The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides options for women between the ages of 40 and 64 who have a low income or do not have insurance. Visit the CDC website for more information.
Remember that caring for yourself is just as important so that you can continue to care for your loved one!