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Screening is the Key to Beat Breast Cancer

By  Kristin Shives
TRICARE Management Activity
October 03, 2012
            October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and TRICARE beneficiaries should know breast exams are covered. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Early detection and diagnosis are very important steps in the treatment of breast cancer. TRICARE encourages women to conduct breast self-exams and get their annual mammograms. Regular mammograms can lead to early detection of breast cancer and improve the chances of survival says the NCI.

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that begins in the cells of the breast. This type of cancer is usually found in women, with less than 1 percent of all breast cancers being diagnosed in men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common type of breast cancer begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast.

TRICARE beneficiaries in specific age and risk categories have no copayment for mammograms. Beneficiaries are entitled to an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 and at a doctor’s discretion for women younger than 40 who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Beneficiaries can be identified as “high risk” for breast cancer because of family history.

The CDC offers several ways to lower the chances of developing breast cancer:

  • Get screened for breast cancer regularly
  • Control weight and exercise
  • Know family history of breast cancer
  • Discuss the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy
  • Limit alcohol consumption

Even after taking preventive measures that may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, some patients still develop breast cancer which can be both scary and shocking. Hope exists as modern medicine continues to advance, helping more patients to become cancer survivors. There are several treatment options available to fight breast cancer depending on which stage the cancer is in when discovered. Doctors will explain the risks and benefits of each treatment. It’s important for the patient to discuss options in detail to choose the best treatment for them.

TRICARE beneficiaries can learn more about breast exam coverage at www.tricare.mil/coveredservices. For detailed information on breast cancer and how to fight it visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/index.htm or  www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/breast

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