Approximately, one in eight American women will develop breast cancer at some point during their lifetime. In fact, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in US women, according to the CDC. Of course, if breast cancer is detected early, many women will have the ability to treat cancer successfully and go on to lead long, healthy lives. Of course, one of the goals of your OBGYN is to make sure you get the care you need to stay healthy.
When you think of visiting your gynecologist you may only think about pelvic exams, but remember that breast exams are also part of your routine visit. These exams are important because they are one of the best and easiest screening tools we have for early detection of breast cancer. In essence, this simple trip to your gynecologist could just end up saving your life. The earlier breast cancer is detected the greater chance there is to catch the problem before it spreads.
Along with getting annual breast exams from your gynecologist you should also perform breast self-exams at least once a month. While many symptoms don’t manifest themselves in the very beginning, if something feels off it’s important that you turn to your doctor right away. These breast exams are necessary for women of all ages, regardless of whether risk factors are present.
Of course, there are some women who are at an increased risk when it comes to breast cancer. Remember, your family history matters. If you have a close relative like a sibling, child, or mother who has had breast cancer this also increases your risk. It’s important that you let your doctors and gynecologist know this prior to your screening. A gynecologist may recommend getting routine mammograms at a younger age, depending on your risk factors.
While the debate is still out about whether women should get mammogram screenings beginning at age 50 or whether women should start at 40 years old, it’s important that you are performing monthly self-exams, visiting your OBGYN for your annual checkup and beginning a routine mammogram schedule when necessary. Talk to your gynecologist and other physicians about the right breast cancer screening schedule for you.