While we may know that age is one of the highest breast cancer risk factors, we are also certain that taking charge of your breast health should not wait for any milestone or birthday! It’s never too early to develop good habits around early detection and prevention. So we’d like to take a few moments today and focus on one key issue: what do women under 40 need to know about breast cancer?
Early detection is the key to beating breast cancer, regardless of whether you’ve just graduated from college or retired from the workforce. Monthly breast self-exams are not only for your mother or your aunts to worry about; in fact, we make a special point to conduct youth breast health programs to teach high school juniors and seniors to develop this habit (and learn it correctly) as soon as possible. If you are old enough to vote, you should be completing monthly self-exams!
Motherhood & Breast Cancer
In their twenties and thirties, many women often become mothers for the first time, and face the lifelong challenge of finding time to take care of themselves while raising children. Motherhood, however, presents its own unique opportunities to improve your breast health. Don’t neglect monthly breast self-exams or your own annual clinical exams with a doctor, even while pregnant. If you are able, we recommend breastfeeding, as it may lower your likelihood of being diagnosed with ER/PR-negative forms of breast cancer later in your life.
The Mammogram Question
When a woman reaches 35, she should visit her doctor for her first mammogram, which is known as a baseline. Despite recurring confusion about when annual mammograms should take place, our founder Dr. Virginia Maurer’s statement on the issue maintains that yearly screenings should occur beginning at age 40.
Breast Cancer Statistics For Women Under 40
The bottom line, though, is that the risk of breast cancer for women under 40 is lower than for those above. Breast cancer statistics show that 95% of breast cancer diagnoses and 97% of breast cancer deaths occur in women over 40 years old. Still, that does not mean that breast cancer is unheard of in younger women, as personal stories and heartbreaking testimonials will show. And it certainly does not mean that women under 40 should ignore their breast health.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
The better lifestyle choices you make in your teens, twenties, and thirties—choices like not smoking, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and avoiding obesity—the healthier your forties, fifties, and sixties are likelier to be. Do your future self a favor, and if you are a young mother, teach your children to do the same!
For our under-40 readers: how do you live today with your future health in mind? And for those readers over 40: what do you wish you had done differently in your younger days?