Women in pink smile as they walk in a breast cancer awareness walk

Multi-ethnic group of women wearing pink, participating in breast cancer rally. Focus on African American woman in middle.

By. Dr. K. L. Cohen, MD, FACP, Medical Director of BeverlyCare Clinics

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer.  Statistically, 1 out of 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This year alone more than 250,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease. As a result, it is important to know more about how breast cancer impacts families, lives and communities and to know when to encourage our loved ones to be screened.

About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history. Women should self-examine as well as receive a breast examination by a professional each year as part of her annual “well-woman” check-up.  After the age of 40, women should also receive a yearly mammogram.

The risk of breast cancer increases with gender and age. Also, a woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first –degree female relative with the disease i.e. mother, daughter or sister.  If a family member has been diagnosed with breast cancer, women should be extra diligent in observing for breast cancer and consider obtaining a blood test called BRCA (breast cancer gene) to determine if there is a gene in the family for breast cancer.

While risk increases with gender and age, breast cancer does not discriminate. More than 2,500 cases of breast cancer occur in men each year and women younger than 40 can also be stricken with the disease. Dr. K. Cohen, Director of BeverlyCare’s Women’s Clinic, stated that patients as young as 19 may suffer from invasive breast cancer. Therefore, yearly examinations can be a lifesaving strategy.

Beverly Care, an affiliated clinic of Beverly Hospital, offers wellness exams and referrals for mammograms at the Women’s Pavilion and Breast Center. To learn more about risk factors and schedule a well-woman exam, or to receive a referral for a mammogram, please call (833) 4-BEV-CARE, (833) 4-238-2273, or visit BeverlyCare.org.

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