Early Detection Could Save Lives

Women Can Take Steps to Stay Well, Get Well, Find Cures and Fight Back against breast cancer.

As the nation marks the annual National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the American Cancer Society is encouraging women to choose to put their personal breast health first to stay well and reduce their risk of breast cancer.

The Society is reminding women 40 and older about the importance of getting a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year to find breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. In addition, the Society recommends that women ages 20 to 39 receive a clinical breast exam once every three years.

The American Cancer Society also recommends magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for certain women at high risk. Women at moderate risk should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.

An estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2011, and about 39,520 deaths are expected. While mammography is not perfect, getting a high-quality mammogram is currently the most effective way to detect cancer early because it can identify breast cancer before physical symptoms develop, when the disease is most treatable.

Early-stage breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor is small and most treatable, so it is important that women follow recommended guidelines for finding breast cancer before symptoms develop. On average, mammography will detect about 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms. Breast cancer survival rates are significantly higher when the cancer has not spread.

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