Being Abreast with Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is an annual campaign conducted every October to increase awareness of the disease. Almost all of us are aware of breast cancer – however, most of us make the grave mistake of not taking the necessary steps to detect the disease in its early stages. Did you know that if breast cancer is detected early – in the localized stage, the survival rate is 100%!!! Isn’t that great and incentive enough to get more proactive about trying to pick it up early?

Mammography is the best and most often used test for screening for breast cancer. Each mammogram also means exposure to unnecessary radiation. So it is extremely important to schedule the regular screening tests wisely – with respect to time and frequency.


Listed below are a few guidelines about how often you should get a mammogram:

  • All women over 35 should do regular self-checks to look for lumps or unusual swellings
  • Women over 50, and with no family history of cancer, should get their first Mammography done at the age of 50 (and do it every 1 or 2 years after consulting your physician)
  • Women with a family history of cancer, should start getting regular screening tests done from the age of 40 (and do it every 1 or 2 years depending on your history and BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutation status)

*These are standard recommendations; however you must consult your physician for any questions or queries you may have.

*Getting a mammography does expose you to harmful radiation; however the benefits of mammography almost always outweigh the potential harm from radiation exposure.


There are a lot of myths surrounding breast cancer. Listed below are the most common ones:

Myth #1

If you have a lump in your breast, it means you have breast cancer


A very small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. If you do discover a persistent lump in your breast, you must consult a physician and get a clinical breast examination done


Myth #2

If you have a family history of cancer, you too are likely to develop breast cancer


Having a family history of breast cancer puts you at a higher risk of developing cancer, however statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease

Positive history in a first degree relative: If your mother or sister developed cancer below the age of 50, you should consider getting regular screening tests by 40.

Positive history of breast cancer in multiple generations on the same side of the family: If several family members under the age of 50 have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is probable that there is a breast cancer gene responsible for this. (BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic Mutation)


Myth #3

A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread


A mammogram is the best available test for screening for breast cancer and getting a mammogram does not cause cancer to spread.

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