Department of Public Health
Thomas Carbone, Director of Public Health
36 Bartlet St.
Andover, MA 01810
Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Andover Health Division Provides Early Detection Tips for Breast Cancer
ANDOVER – In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Andover Health Division would like to share tips and resources for early detection and ways for residents to get involved in spreading awareness.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month occurs every October and is an international health campaign that works to increase awareness about the disease and to raise money to support research into its cause, prevention efforts, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die. Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.
The Andover Health Division would like to share the following tips on early detection from the National Breast Cancer Foundation:
- Perform monthly breast self-exams.
- Anytime an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional immediately. For a complete list of abnormalities, click here.
- Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every one to two years. Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.
- Leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by doing the following: maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active, eat fruits and vegetables, do not smoke and limit your alcohol consumption.
“Early detection is so important for both women and men to increase their chances of finding breast cancer before it can spread,” said Joanne Belanger, Assistant Director of Public Health. “Know what’s normal and what isn’t for your body and see your doctor right away if you notice any changes.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, risk factors for breast cancer can include:
- Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age; most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
- Genetic mutations. Inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited these genetic changes are at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Not being physically active.
- Being overweight or obese after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
- Using combination hormone therapy. Taking hormones to replace missing estrogen and progesterone in menopause for more than five years raises the risk for breast cancer.
- Taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Certain forms of oral contraceptive pills have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Personal history of certain non-cancerous breast diseases. Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are associated with a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Personal or family history of breast cancer.
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts (like for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Residents who want to help spread awareness can get involved in several ways:
- Share your story of how you or a loved one have been affected by breast cancer
- Host an in-person or virtual fundraiser
- Make a one-time or ongoing donation
- Share educational content on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.