Understanding the Risks of Breast Cancer for Older Women
The Importance of Ongoing Screenings and Prevention
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While we sometimes think that breast cancer only affects younger women, it is estimated that 21 percent of newly diagnosed patients are older than 70. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of breast cancer increases with age, with many women diagnosed after age 50. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation reports that by 2030, invasive breast cancer cases will double, and “of those new breast cancer cases, women aged 70–84 were expected to make up a larger proportion of diagnoses (35 percent, up from 24 percent in 2011).”
These facts, all put together, may seem scary, but they highlight the importance of ongoing breast cancer screenings and prevention for older women. And there is good news: Older women typically have a favorable prognosis. However, this depends on being able to detect the cancer early on and undergo treatment. Annual breast cancer screenings and mammograms are critical.
You can take steps to lower your risk for all types of cancer. These tips from the American Cancer Society and the CDC are good reminders for all of us to lead a healthy lifestyle:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stay physically active.
- Stay up to date on your vaccinations.
- Avoid or limit your alcohol intake.
- Do not smoke.
- Eat a healthy diet heavy on vegetables and fruit.
If you have any concerns about you or a loved one’s breast cancer risk, we urge you to speak to your primary care physician. Let us know if we can provide additional support or guidance.