I work for a cancer research center and make time to remind friends about Breast
Cancer Awareness Month each October. And it’s not just part of my job: I have
friends who have endured breast cancer, and my mom recently spent a few worrisome
weeks waiting for a second opinion following a mammogram.
First, some encouraging news. While breast cancer remains the most common type of
cancer among women, it’s becoming more treatable. The five-year survival rate
for all women diagnosed with breast cancer now stands at nearly 90 percent.
Today, most women who have been treated for breast cancer are expected to live a
full life without a recurrence. Survival rates get even better when breast cancer
is detected before it spreads, with a five-year survival rate of 98 percent.
The key, of course, is detecting cancer at its earliest stages. That’s why
women should have a clinical breast exam (manual examination of the breasts by an
ob-gyn or other medical professional) at least every three years, starting in their
Women age 40 and over should also have a mammogram (breast X-ray) every one to two
years. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have a mammogram.