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Getting screened for breast cancer could save your life | Wear the Gown

University Health recommends starting the screenings once women hit 40.

SAN ANTONIO — About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women, and about 43,600 women in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer this year. 

Getting screened is the best way to find it early. 

"The most important thing you want to do is catch it early before it spreads so it's more easily curable," said Dr. Pamela Otto, a lead breast cancer radiologist for University Health. 

She says starting screenings at the right age is extremely important. 

"You start annually at age 40 and continue annually until you can't be treated for the disease," Otto added. "So if you have another disease that prevents you from being treated, then you don't need to be screened anymore."

But as long as you can be screened it needs to be every year. Dr. Otto said, "Especially if you're at high risk to get that screening done. An MRI that was done 10 years ago does not protect you from getting breast cancer."

Ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer include exercising regularly, capping your weekly alcohol intake at three drinks, monitoring your health closely if you are taking hormone replacement therapy, breastfeeding if you can and maintaining a healthy weight. 

Being overweight can be a huge risk factor. 

"Adipose tissue, or fat tissue in the body, secretes estrogens and higher estrogen load in your body is felt to increase your risk for breast cancer," Otto said.  

For more information on family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Wear the Gown stories at wearthegown.com.