Army Medicine joins Military Health System (MHS) and other health system partners in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase the overall awareness and sharing of information among Soldiers, family members, and beneficiaries on the importance of breast cancer screening as well as communicating how a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating nutritious foods and staying physically active, are to maintaining, restoring, and improving breast health.

The end state is an environment where Soldiers, family members and beneficiaries have a better understanding of the preventive measures they can take to reduce the risks of developing breast cancer by getting screened early and regularly.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer (behind skin cancer) in females in the United States and the second most common cause of cancer death in women (behind lung cancer). Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. An estimated 39,620 women are expected to die from the disease in 2013.

The good news is that death rates for breast cancer have steadily declined for women in the past 20 years likely due to progress in earlier detection, improved treatment of breast cancer, and possibly from the declining use of combination hormone replacement therapy.

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) organization is comprised of several national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to increase breast cancer awareness, share information and provide access to screening services. NBCAM began on a national level more than 25 years ago in order to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer. A variety of events are organized in October to highlight NBCAM including walks, runs, and the pink illumination of landmarks.

The third week in October was established as "Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week" by several male breast cancer advocacy groups. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 232,340 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year (2013); about 2,240 new cases are expected in men. Men are generally at low risk for developing breast cancer; however, approximately 2,140 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Military Health System also recognizes October as Women's Health Awareness Month. Women's health is an important part of the overall wellness of the defense community. While women and men have many of the same health issues, women may be affected differently than men. In addition, there are some conditions which are unique to women. Familiarity with women's health issues, regular screenings and prevention are keys to maintaining good health.

If you are age 40 or older, join the millions of women who get mammograms on a regular basis. If you are a Family member, friend, or colleague, don't wait to encourage the women in your life to get mammograms. Breast cancer is more likely to be cured if it is caught early. If all women adhered to guidelines for obtaining mammograms, the survivability rate from breast cancer would increase significantly. Early detection is key. The key to mammography screening is that it be done routinely -- once is not enough.

Be proactive in your Lifespace - take charge of your own breast health by understanding recommended screening methods, making regular visits to your healthcare provider, and having routine mammograms. A healthy nutritious diet, along with regular exercise, both part of the Performance Triad, have been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.

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Military Health System Women's Health