Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. The development of breast cancer is a multi-step process involving multiple cell types, and its prevention remains challenging around the world. Early diagnosis of breast cancer is one of the best approaches to decreasing death from this illness. Additionally, genetics also plays a role in developing this type of cancer and some women may have a higher risk of cancer if they have a strong family history or BRCA genes.
A routine mammogram is recommended for many women between the ages of 40-49 and the CDC has recommended women discuss their risk factors with their provider and determine if annual screening is appropriate for them. A biannual (every two years) mammogram has been recommended in women ages 50-74 and has been recommended by the CDC and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for women with an average risk of developing breast cancer.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Providers order mammograms to look for early signs of breast cancer. In many developed countries including the United States, where mammograms are used, the five-year relative survival rate of breast cancer patients is above 80% due to early prevention.
When women begin menopause, some choose to utilize hormone replacement therapy and often stay on it for a long time. Couple this with smoking, their risk increases not only for breast cancer but other types of cancers, as well. Worldwide, 13% of all women between the age of 15 and 49 are on some form of contraception. The associated risk of breast cancer is higher in women who were current or recent users of contemporary hormonal contraceptives when compared to women that never used hormonal contraception and in women with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (mother, sister) or second-degree relative (aunt, cousin).
In a Danish study in women who had mammograms regularly and was followed over a 10-year period: The highest rates were seen in those using levonorgestrel and estradiol valerate and dienogest combination pills (46 per 100,000 or one additional cancer per 2,100 women per year).
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So know your risks for breast cancer development by discussing it with your provider today.
Keisha Ellis is a certified family nurse practitioner for Eastern New Mexico Medical Group’s Quick Care. The advice offered in this column is that of the author.