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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. By Our Student Pharmacist, Joe Raney.


Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breath cancer in the United States. Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the United States, and it is the second most common cause of cancer related death in women after lung cancer.

The good news is that 63% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a stage where the 5-year survival rate is 99%. This is due in part to breast cancer screening, but more on that later.

First, how do we reduce the risk of developing breast cancer?

Cancer Prevention:

Your risk of developing cancer can be reduced by using these four strategies from the American Cancer Society.
They are:

  • achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • be physically active
  • follow a healthy eating plan
  • avoid alcohol

Achieve or Maintain a Healthy Body Weight:

To help achieve or maintain a healthy body weight you should first talk to your doctor about what a healthy body weight is for you and create a plan for how to achieve or maintain it.

Physical Activity:

The American Cancer Society recommends an exercise plan with around 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise each week, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. One way of completing this could be by going on a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes five to six times per week.

Follow a Healthy Eating Plan:

Consume a diet with a variety of different colored vegetables and fruits. Foods that are high in nutritional value can help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Healthy eating plans are ones that limit red and processed meats, sugary beverages, highly processed foods, and refined grain products. When you consume carbohydrate rich foods, such as breads and pasta, make sure they are whole grain products.

Avoid Alcohol:

It is best not to drink alcohol. When consuming alcohol, it is best to limit your intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Cancer Screening:

Breast cancer screenings are an important part of lowering your risk for severe breast cancer. The first step in determining what needs to be done for your screenings would be talking to your doctor about your breast cancer risk. There are many different items that can factor into determining your risk of developing breast cancer. Your doctor will help you create a plan for what kind of screenings you need, and how often you should receive them.

Likely, an important part of a plan would be having a mammogram done every two years for those ages 50-74. A mammogram is a machine that uses X-rays to detect breast cancer. Although it can be an uncomfortable procedure, it can detect breast cancer up to three years before the cancer can be felt with the hands. Mammograms are part of the reason why 63% of breast cancers cases are diagnosed at a stage where the 5-year survival rate is 99%.

Only 67% of women ages 40 and older have had a mammogram in the last two years. If you find yourself in the 33% of women who have not had one done, ask your doctor for a recommendation about breast cancer screenings during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Breast Cancer; CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/index.htm

Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity; American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/eat-healthy-get-active/acs-guidelines-nutrition-physical-activity-cancer-prevention/guidelines.html

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women; CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/pdf/breast-cancer-screening-guidelines-508.pdf



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