ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala -- Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and the second most common type of cancer death, according to Dr. Joshua Johannson, an OB-GYN, during his appearance on The Morning Show Oct. 16.
"There are about 2,000 men a year who get breast cancer and about 20,000 women a year," said Johannson. "So, it affects men, but not as frequently as women."
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Johannson said the emphasis on screenings at this time of year is important because most women don't exhibit symptoms from breast cancer until it is fairly well progressed.
Symptoms can range from lumps in the breast to a bloody discharge from the nipples and treatment for cancer depends upon how far progressed it is as well as the individual's family history and risk factors.
"There are things which increase breast cancer risk, such as obesity, smoking and alcohol," Johannson said.
He added there are also factors which can lower a person's risk, such as having a child early and breast feeding.
Then, there are factors which medical science has not given a definite decision on. Among these are diabetes and hormone therapy.
"There is a lot of debate about hormones and hormone therapy having an effect on breast cancer," said Johannson, adding there is not enough data yet on the topic to say definitively if it is a benefit or a risk factor.
In addition to mammograms, which screen for breast cancer, Johannson said there are a number of tests women should have regularly performed. Among them are:
•,Blood pressure - the leading cause of death among women is heart disease, so Johannson recommends everyone over the age of 18 have their blood pressure checked regularly.
•,Blood sugar - this is particularly important in individuals with a family history of diabetes.
•,Pap smear - for females over the age of 21, this check for cervical cancer is important.
•,Cholesterol - those over 45 should have their cholesterol checked and Johannson recommends this test beginning at age 35 for those with a family history of heart disease.
•,Colonoscopy - colon cancer screenings should also be an important checkup.
In addition to these tests, Johannson said the two best things anyone can do for their health is control their weight and stop smoking.
"Smoking has been linked to every kind of cancer. So, stop smoking," he said.