What you need to know about breast cancer
Did you know breast cancer affects 1 in every 8 women? You can probably think of at least one person in your life who has been affected by breast cancer. The good news is the survival rate for people with breast cancer has been steadily rising since the 1990s. Julian Kim, MD, shared information about breast cancer screenings and advancements in breast cancer treatment.
Dr. Kim said one reason the breast cancer survival rate is improving is because people are starting to detect it sooner. Two ways you can detect breast cancer are through a self-examination or a mammogram. “A mammogram can detect breast cancer anywhere from 2–10 years before that cancer grows large enough to be felt in an examination. Mammograms are key,” Dr. Kim said.
When should you get a mammogram?
The guidelines around this can be confusing because they are constantly changing. Dr. Kim offered these tips:
- After the age of 40, you should be getting a mammogram once a year.
- If breast cancer runs in your family, consult your doctor. It might be beneficial to start getting mammograms before the age of 40.
- If you have any questions, don’t skip your mammogram – ask your doctor. It could save your life.
Dr. Kim said another reason the breast cancer survival rate is rising is because of the improvements in treatment. Not only are the treatment methods improving, but they are also getting more personalized. For example, most breast cancer patients used to have to go through chemotherapy. Now, there is specialized genetic testing that can be performed on the individual’s breast cancer that can show whether the patient will benefit from chemotherapy.
Dr. Kim said, “This means fewer women in general will receive chemotherapy, and the improvement in breast cancer survival will continue, so less equals more.”
If you are a breast cancer patient, Dr. Kim said it’s important to ask questions. Understanding more can make you feel better, have more confidence, have less anxiety and be able to trust that you are getting the treatment that is best for you.