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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an event held every year to increase awareness of breast cancer. Routine mammography screening is one of the most important steps you can take to maintain your health, prevent disease and live a healthy life.

Key facts about breast cancer screening:

  • What are the odds? The chance a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer is one in eight; that translates to more than 200,000 new cases each year. Of these, 70 percent of diagnosed women have no known risk factors. While some women may feel their chance of developing cancer is small, they are taking a risk by not getting recommended screenings.
  • What about the guidelines? In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) controversially changed their recommendation to recommend mammograms once every two years beginning at age 50. The American Cancer Society, however, recommends that annual mammograms begin at age 45.  Beginning at age 55, a screening mammogram is recommended every other year.
  • Is it expensive? For TRICARE beneficiaries, one screening mammogram is covered annually beginning at age 40 – there is no cost to you when you receive the service from a network provider. Women with a high risk of breast cancer or certain clinical symptoms may be eligible to receive screenings even earlier.
  • Is it uncomfortable? Mammograms are done in private with a single technician and most women experience very minimal discomfort.
  • What about the results? No screening test is perfect, but screening and early detection is your best defense against cancer.

    

Call your doctor and ask when you should begin routine mammography screenings and how often you should be screened thereafter.