Fall Screenings Can Lead to Early Detection and Successful Outcomes

By: Laura Gros, RN, CBCN, Patient Care Coordinator, Thibodaux Regional Cancer Center

As summer turns into fall men and women are reminded to turn their attention to getting annual screenings for cancers that can be highly treatable when detected early.

For men, September is recognized as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, while the pink ribbons of October symbolize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both observances call attention to ways to safeguard your health, starting with screenings.

According to the American Cancer Society, after skin cancer breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women. About one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.

Basic Facts about Breast Cancer

Oftentimes, a woman doesn’t realize that cancer is lurking in her body. For that reason, screening mammograms are crucial to prevention and early detection.

Guidelines for screenings are:

  • Begin screening mammograms between ages 40 and 44
  • Continue annual mammograms from ages 45 to 54
  • At age 55, women of average risk can continue annual or change to biennial mammograms
  • Screenings should continue as long as a woman is in good health and expects to live another 10 years or more

Risks increase with age, and post-menopausal women are at higher risk as are those with a family history of breast cancer. While those two factors can't be controlled, certain lifestyle choices can be altered:

  • Healthy Diet. Diet may contribute to about 30 to 40 percent of all cancers. Research indicates that a low-fat diet and one high in vegetables and fiber can help reduce risk or recurrence.
  • Vitamin D. This vitamin, which tends to decrease as women and men age, is beneficial for cancer prevention and treatment.
  • Regular Exercise. At least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, combined with a healthy diet, help women to maintain healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risks.
  • Limit Alcohol. Alcohol consumption can fuel risks; limit drinks to no more than one a day.

Know your risks and family history and discuss those with your provider to safeguard against or detect breast cancer early.

If you have not done so already, now is the time to schedule your mammogram. For more information about screenings contact Thibodaux Regional Cancer Center, 985-493-4008.