Breast cancer: Early detection remains key

Health News

(NBC News) – Thirteen years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Sheryl Crow is singing the praises of early detection efforts, like mammograms.

Getting one helped save her life. 
 
“Early detection is our greatest weapon until we have a cure,” Crow says.
 
The American Cancer Society estimates some 268,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. 

More than 41,000 will die, black women at a higher rate than white women.  The numbers, while staggering, represent a continued drop in death rates since 1989.
 
“We’re doing a better job in terms of early detection with mammography and other approaches to finding breast cancer early,” says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld. “And our treatments have gotten much better.”
  
However, the number of cases is climbing, perhaps due to women having fewer children than they did in the past. Another possible risk factor is an increase in obesity. 

Doctors recommend regular self-exams at home.

“You might feel a mass that you didn’t feel before, or that it’s tender, tender to touch. Also if you have discharge from the nipple that’s concerning to you. That is when we want people to go to their doctor,” Dr. Jessica Shepherd explains. 
  
Even women with no family history of breast cancer should starting talking with their doctors about mammograms around 40.

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