Two very important words that can save lives: early detection.
Women Veterans are encouraged to add those two words to their calendar every month as reminders. And, then follow up: talk with your health care provider about appropriate breast cancer screenings, such as regular mammograms.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer early and early detection makes a big difference in a woman’s chances of surviving. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that women age 50 years or older should have a screening mammogram every two years. Both men and women can develop breast cancer, though male breast cancer is rare.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Women Veterans should be aware of breast cancer all year long. VA seeks to help women Veterans improve their overall health by providing general and gender specific health care.
It’s important that you keep your own prevention scorecard and talk to your provider throughout the year.
State of the art digital mammography equipment is available at many VA medical centers. Each VA medical center has designated women’s health care providers. Today, women Veterans can see the same doctor and case manager for years.
Breast cancer risk factors include getting older, having a close family member with breast cancer, being overweight or obese, previous radiation therapy/exposure to the breasts or chest, not exercising and having certain gene mutations.
Having these risk factors does not mean that a woman or man will develop breast cancer, but they should be brought to the attention of their health care provider.
Early detection makes a big difference in a woman’s chance of surviving.
Big changes have been made since the launch of VA’s Women’s Health Initiative in 2008. Progress includes:
VA wants every woman to get the appropriate screening. The VA directory helps Veterans find their nearest facility.
Non-Veterans can find local screening resources through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s early detection program at www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp.