42,000 women and 500 men estimated to die in 2020 due to breast cancer; preventative care and early detection key for all of us

By Regence
October 21, 2020
Doctor working on a digital tablet

Chances are you know someone who’s faced breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer at some point in their life. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, estimated to kill more than 42,000 women in 2020. The ACS also estimates more than 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, and more than 500 will die as a result.

Some risk factors for breast cancer cannot be helped: gender, age and inheriting the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Risk factors for men include Klinefelder syndrome. Other lifestyle-related risk factors can be managed by drinking less alcohol, staying within a healthy weight range, exercising regularly and limiting certain hormone therapies, among others. The ACS has a comprehensive guide to lowering your risk.

Mammograms save lives

Finding breast cancer early is key to improved outcomes and long-term survival, and mammograms can detect cancer before it’s large enough to be found by a self-exam. Most people can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early, before it has a chance to spread.

The ACS recommends the following mammogram schedule by age range for women at average risk of breast cancer:

  • Women between 40 and 44 – every year (optional)
  • Women between 45 and 54 – every year (recommended)
  • Women 55 and older – every other year

Screening recommendations for women also change based on risk factors. Information about detection and diagnosis in men is available through the ACS. The Association of Community Cancer Centers also offers cancer screening guidance for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Most Regence health plans cover annual in-network preventive mammograms at 100 percent. In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, now is a good time to encourage loved ones to schedule a mammogram—and schedule one for yourself as appropriate. Regence members can log in to their account online at regence.com to learn more about their preventative care benefits, search for in-network doctors, and more.