October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In our life, we are bound to meet or know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. 1 in 8 women in the United States will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Surprisingly, only 65% of women older than 40 reports having a mammogram, a test to screen for breast cancer, within the last two years. When was the last time your loved one or you yourself received a mammogram screening? We all need to start to talk about who is at risk for breast cancer and why it’s important to make sure we all get our screening. By being open and learning more about it, we are taking a big step towards breast cancer prevention.
Who is at risk?
Although breast cancer can affect anyone, some people are more at risk than others. Some things associated with breast cancer-being a woman, age, and genetics for example—can’t be changed. Other things such as lifestyle choices—eating unhealthy, lack of exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol are everyday choices that can be changed to help lower risk.
-Family History: Women with an immediate blood relative, such as a mother or a sister, who has had breast cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease.
-Drinking alcohol and smoking: studies have shown that drinking alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer.
-Smoking cigarettes releases chemicals into the bloodstream that can cause several diseases and different kinds of cancers.
-Not being active/obesity: Being overweight may contribute to increases in estrogen levels which also increases the risk of breast cancer.
Why you should get a mammogram screening:
A mammogram can detect breast cancer before it can be seen or felt by a patient or a physician. Women who have breast cancer detected early have a 98% chance of survival and need less serious treatment.
Ways to reduce breast cancer risks:
By choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.
-Maintain a healthy weight by staying active and making healthy food choices
-Drink less alcohol
-Know your family history and what that means for you
-Get regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
How Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers can help:
It is never too early to get informed. We encourage women ages 40-49 to talk with their doctors about when to start getting mammograms. Women 54 and older are encouraged to get a mammogram screening every two years.
Getting a mammogram is very easy. Most insurances do not require a referral, however, in a rare case a facility may ask for one. You can call your provider and they should easily be able to give you one.
If you are paying for your own insurance, or don’t have insurance, there is help too. In this case, you would need a referral by your provider. All you have to do is call Breast Health Advocates, set up an appointment and apply for The Wisconsin Well Women Program or the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (Susan Komen). There is no fee for the application process. Once approved, these advocates will reach out to you and help schedule the appointment for the mammogram. Sixteenth Street uses the following sites for our patients without insurance.
Milwaukee Health Department- 286-2133.
Ascension St Francis Breast Health Advocate Fabiola De Chico (414) 647-7449
Ascension St Mary’s Breast Health advocate Claudia Guevara (414) 585-2014
Have you had your mammogram yet? Make an appointment today!