There is good news in the fight against breast cancer: the death rate due to breast cancer has decreased every year since 2013 in the United States.
Ashtabula County Medical Center Oncologist Shinoj Pattali, MD, said, “Breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women. But early diagnosis, advances in technology and treatment option, and improved lifestyle choices have helped keep the breast cancer death rate in women younger than age 50 from increasing and have helped to decrease the breast cancer death rate in older women.”
ACMC Family Medicine provider Adeola Fakolade, MD agreed. “With what we know about breast cancer today, we can continue to decrease the death rate for women. However, this takes us working together – doctor and patient – to ensure early detection and that you are living a healthy, prevention-focused lifestyle to lower your risk.”
A prevention-focused lifestyle includes eating healthy meals, avoiding excessive alcohol (no more than one drink per day), and exercising. Dr. Pattali said there are also other lifestyle choices that affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer, and that these should be discussed with a woman’s provider:
- Birth control – some birth control methods can increase your cancer risk.
- Hormone therapy – hormone therapy to ease menopause symptoms may increase your cancer risk.
- Childbirth and breastfeeding – having children and breastfeeding can lower your cancer risk.
- Cosmetic choices – breast implants have been linked to a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Dr. Pattali said early detection of breast cancer is key to treating it. ACMC providers recommend women over the age of 20 get clinical breast exams every three years (annually after the age of 40) and mammograms every year after they turn 40. For women with a family history or with several risk factors, mammograms may begin earlier than age 40.
The Ashtabula County Health Assessment shows less than 60% of women eligible have regularly scheduled mammograms.
“We need to change that,” said Dr. Fakolade. “By getting these tests as recommended, we can establish a benchmark or baseline, so that if something changes, we can identify it early as possible. We have the tools to battle breast cancer, but the fight really starts with you,” Dr. Fakolade said.