WXYZ — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All month long, 7 Action News is covering what you need to know about the second-most common cancer among women in the U.S.
Let's start with the biggest risk factors: being a woman, especially age 50 or older, and any changes to your BRCA genes.
Every year, around 255,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer. Around 42,000 of those women die from the disease, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So when should you start getting screened, and how often? Most experts say once women hit the age of 40, they should get a mammogram at least once a year. Early detection can make a big difference. That's why weekly self-checks are equally important.
"At least once a week, the more frequently the better to identify changes. Women know their breasts best. Any changes that you can recognize, any lumps or bumps or skin changes are very important to bring to your primary care physician..." explained Dr. Felix Valbueno, CEO of Community Health And Social Services Center in Detroit.
Last month, Digital Reporter Alexandra Bahou introduced us to the nonprofit, which has been serving people in and around Detroit for more than 50 years. CHASS offers affordable mammograms among other screenings. Since our story aired, CHASS has received additional funding. That means it's one step closer to bringing in new technology to detect breast cancer even earlier.
"Technology nowadays, and not just in breast cancer but cancer detection in general has improved significantly so that we're catching cancers early, early on and are able to cure many individuals. About 63% of breast cancers are detected in a very early stage where the survival rate at five years is 99%..." shared Dr. Valbueno.
Men are also impacted by breast cancer, but less frequently. About 1 out of every 100 U.S. cases are found in men. In cases when breast cancer does develop, it happens in a man's breast cells and tissue.
While you can't control breast cancer risk factors, you can lower your risk. We'll be speaking to an expert and diving into that topic next week.
For now, consider joining the 2021 Komen Detroit Race for the Cure. Milliken State Park opens for the event Saturday, October 2 at 7 a.m.
Alicia Smith is the emcee of this year's Detroit Race for the Cure, which raises money with the ultimate goal of ending breast cancer. If you can't attend in-person or don't feel comfortable doing so, you can always find ways to support the cause from the comfort of your home.