October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For senior citizens, awareness of breast cancer remains crucial. The median age of breast cancer diagnosis is 62, and nearly 20-percent of those detected are over the age of 75. However, early detection and understanding the disease offers many treatment options and increased opportunities for longevity and quality of life.
Let’s explore some of the steps you can take to remain vigilant about breast cancer awareness.
Know Your Breast Cancer Risks
As we age, our risk of developing breast cancer increases. Women over the age of 50 are the most common group diagnosed with breast cancer. Other risk factors also play a part in determining your risk of developing breast cancer. They include:
- Genetics – changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Family History of Breast Cancer – Namely, a first degree relative (mother, daughter, sister)
- Reproductive History – Beginning menstruation before the age of 12, having a first child after 30, never having a child, and not breastfeeding
- Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle
- Obesity After Menopause
- Drinking Alcohol and Smoking
Having any of these risk factors does not guarantee that you will develop the disease. However, it is important to understand them and discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can provide advice on how to reduce the risk by making lifestyle changes and continuing to monitor overall health.
Monthly breast self-exams are a simple and effective way to monitor for changes in your breast tissue. They aid in early detection and cancer prevention. Medical providers report that seniors are often less consistent with monthly self exams.
Continuing to perform self exams assists in detecting lumps, visual changes to the breast, or redness and pitting in the skin. All can be signs of breast cancer. If you are unsure about how to complete a self-exam, ask your doctor. They can provide tips and show you how during your next check-up.
Mammograms and Breast Cancer Detection
Mammograms are a powerful tool for early detection of breast cancer and maintaining breast health. The American Cancer Society recommends that women over 65 schedule a mammogram every two years. If certain risk factors are present, doctors advise testing more frequently. Discuss your mammogram schedule with your healthcare provider.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Awareness also means recognizing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. These include changes in breast size, shape, or appearance, unexplained pain, bloody or discolored nipple discharge, or certain skin changes. If you notice any of these, consult your healthcare provider immediately.
Breast cancer awareness is a critical component of women’s healthcare, especially for those over 65.
It is treatable – and survivable – but early detection is key.
Understanding risk factors and determining if you are high risk is important. Stay informed, practice regular self-exams, schedule mammograms, and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Salus home care and home health services support women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment or recovering after surgery. Hospice care provides support when treatment is no longer effective or desired. Our services are 5-star rated and medically endorsed. We customize care plans to meet the patient’s needs, goals, and scheduling preferences. If you or a loved one are in need of support, contact us to schedule a no cost, no obligation consultation.