October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; Be diligent for early detection

3D digital mammography at VMH ... October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Six years ago, Veterans Memorial Hospital introduced the first 3D digital mammography machine in northeast Iowa and continues to offer this state-of-the art technology for early detection. Submitted photo.

An estimated 252,710 new invasive cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States during 2020 and about 2,470 new cases of breast cancer are expected in men in 2020. In total, an estimated 40,610 deaths (40,170 women and 440 men) are anticipated from breast cancer in 2020.  These numbers have steadily decreased since 1990. The American Cancer Society states the decrease represents progress in both earlier detection and improved treatment.

Gender and age are the main risk factors.  As age increases, so does the risk for developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society is encouraging women to fight breast cancer by taking charge of their personal breast health to reduce other risk factors by taking the following steps: begin monthly self-breast exams at age 20; have a baseline mammogram by age 40, and then a mammogram every year after age 40. Women who do this will find a lump at a much earlier time. The earlier cancer is found, the better the survival rate.

Besides a monthly self-breast exam, annual breast physical exams by a health care professional and the annual mammogram, women are encouraged to eat healthier. Their diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and rice and limit fats, sweets, alcohol and totally avoiding tobacco products.

Women also need to get plenty of exercise - at least 45 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Practicing stress management and getting enough sleep each night will keep people healthier and help recharge the immune system.

For additional information, call the Veterans Memorial Hospital Radiology Department at 563-568-3411 or visit www.veteransmemorialhospital.com.