October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – an annual campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer signs, symptoms and treatments. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In fact, breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for women.
There are important risk factors that may increase your risk of developing breast cancer, such as:
- Gender– Being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833.
- Age– Your risk of breast cancer increased as you get older. Women 40 and older are at average risk of breast cancer, and should have a mammogram once a year.
- Race & Ethnicity– White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American, Hispanic, and Asian women. However, African American women are more likely to develop an aggressive, advanced stage breast cancer that is diagnosed at a young age.
- Genetics– About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary. A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Weight & Lack of exercise– Overweight and obese women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to women who maintain a healthy weight.
- Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Menstrual history–
- Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy or have their first child after age 30 have a higher risk of breast cancer, compared to women who gave birth before age 30.
- Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk.
- Women who started menstruating younger than age 12, and women who go through menopause when they’re older than 55, have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life.
- Alcohol consumption– Research shows that drinking alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and liquor) increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
- Smoking– Smoking is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, pre-menopausal women.
Early detection plays a key role in diagnosing and treating breast cancer. Most health insurance providers are required to cover mammograms every 1-2 years for women aged 40+, with no out of pocket cost (co-pay, deductive or co-insurance). The CDC also offers free or low-cost mammograms as part of their National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
Your Northwestern Benefits Services Specialist can provide plan-specific insurance coverage for breast cancer services.