Breast Cancer in Arizona & Helpful Tips
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a month you’ll see a lot of pink ribbons, stories of survival, and remembrances. It’s also an opportunity to increase awareness.
The latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services reveals that 883 Arizonans died from breast cancer in 2020, breast cancer being the most common cancer for females in our state.
The Arizona Cancer Registry reports from 2015-2019, breast cancer was the #1 most diagnosed cancer in Arizona, and 4th highest cause of cancer death in 2020.
We could continue listing numbers and statistics to illustrate the prevalence and seriousness of the disease, but the best way to help is by offering information and encouraging examinations because early detection can lower your risk.
Examinations by age according to the American Breast Cancer Foundation:
Women should start self-examining their breasts in their 20s. Why? When you familiarize yourself with your body, you’ll be more likely to flag any changes to your doctor. There are three different ways to do it:
- Circular: Start at the outer edge of your breast and move fingers around the entire breast in a circular motion
- Vertical: Start at your underarm area and move your fingers around the entire breast in a circular motion.
- Wedge: Start at the outer edge of your breast and move your fingers towards the nipple and back to the edge until you have checked the entire breast in small wedge-shaped sections.
Women in this age range should have their breasts clinically examined. The clinical breast exam (CBE) should be a part of your annual health examination. This is not the same as a mammogram. During a CBE, your provider will examine your breasts to check for anything that feels abnormal like a lump. For women over 40, this is usually a complement to other types of screenings such as mammograms.
Women aged 40 to 44 years have the choice to start breast cancer screenings once a year with mammography. If there are significant risk factors your doctor may recommend specific exams. Above that age range, women should have a mammogram done annually. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. The goal of mammography is the early detection of breast cancer, typically through detection of masses.
If you choose, you can switch to a screening every other year if there are no other risk factors.
For tips on how to cope with not only the physical, but the emotional side of breast cancer, visit: The emotional side of breast cancer | AZBlue