Director of Breast Imaging
Dorothy G. Hoefer Comprehensive Breast Center
Newport News, Virginia
A woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is approximately 1 in 8. Early detection through screening mammography has been proven to decrease a women’s chance of dying from breast cancer by 30%. Along with annual mammograms, there are many healthy habits you can start which will help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
In Your 30s
This is the time to become familiar with the look and feel of your breasts. Watch for new lumps, swelling, nipple retraction (turning inward) or dimpling of the skin. Report any changes to your doctor immediately. Find out about your family history of breast and ovarian cancer. Women are at higher risk of breast cancer if they have one or more first-degree relatives with the disease. They should begin mammograms 10 years prior to the age of the youngest breast cancer case in the family. So, if your mom had breast cancer at age 45, then you should begin screening at age 35. If you have a strong family history of the disease, then you should talk to your doctor about genetic screening and breast MRIs. No family history? ALL women are still at risk. 75% of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women without any family history of the disease.
Risk of developing an Invasive Breast Cancer is 1 in 228
In Your 40s
Now is the time to start with yearly mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends that women at age 40 should have the choice to start yearly mammograms. 1 in 6 breast cancers will occur in women aged 40-49. So this is not the time to delay that mammogram appointment. You should also limit alcohol consumption to less than one drink per day. Continue to stay familiar with your body and report any changes to your doctor who should now be performing a yearly clinical exam.
Risk of developing an Invasive Breast Cancer is 1 in 69.
In Your 50s
Keep it up! Continue annual screening mammograms and clinical breast exams. Report any changes in appearance or feel of your breasts to your doctor. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the key factors in warding off breast cancer. Eat a diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and stay away from fat and refined sugars. Since your risk of breast cancer continues to rise each decade, maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle are even more important.
Risk of developing an Invasive Breast Cancer is 1 in 43.
In your 60s
You’re not done with screening! The average age of a woman who receives a breast cancer diagnosis is 62, which is why these women need to be extra diligent about annual screening mammograms, clinical breast exams and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Report any changes in appearance or feel of your breasts to your doctor.
Risk of developing an Invasive Breast Cancer is 1 in 29.
In your 70s
Mammograms should be continued regardless of age according to the American Cancer Society as long as you don’t have serious, chronic health concerns such as congestive heart failure, end stage renal disease, COPD and moderate or severe dementia. Your risk of breast cancer continues to rise each decade, so now is NOT the time to stop screening if you are in good overall health.
Risk of developing an Invasive Breast Cancer is 1 in 26.