NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – October is Breast Cancer awareness month and experts say the disease that can be very treatable.
If caught early enough, there is a 95 percent survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Young lives can be saved and that older lives can be lengthened,” said Linda Aaron of Florence.
Every year, more than quarter of a million women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
“They did the operation and they removed her breast,” Aaron told 22News. “It had already metastasized in the lymph nodes. Even with radiation and chemotherapy, they couldn’t save her. It took about a year, I guess. She had a little boy. She was too young to have died.” Aaron is talking about her daughter-in-law who died from breast cancer at 30.
Men can get breast cancer, but at a much lower rate than women. One hundred and twenty women for every one man. Cooley Dickinson Hospital General Surgeon, Michelle Helms, recommends women start mammogram screenings at age 40.
And they should start performing self-exams as early as 18.
Dr. Helms told 22News, that’s how 70 percent of women find their own tumors. With 30 percent being found by their doctor.
Smoking can increase your risk of breast cancer and alcohol use can, as well. A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk.
Maintaining a healthy weight, especially after menopause, is also very important. Extra fat after menopause can increase your risk.
“Some women who had benign breast biopsies in the past, for abnormal lesions on mammograms, can be at increased risk as well,” said Dr. Helms.
Dr. Helms told 22News 15 percent of patients diagnosed with breast cancer, have a family history of the disease.
Closest family members have the highest risk. Dr. Helms urges patients to “say something if they feel something.”
Early detection is the best way to fight breast cancer.