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Healthwatch 16: Know your risk for breast cancer

Doctors at Geisinger want people to know that early detection through mammograms can save lives.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — One in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, according to Geisinger experts.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer for women in the United States, but it is also very treatable. Mammograms have been shown to detect breast cancer early. Most women are recommended to get one starting at the age of 40.

"When you can typically feel something, and you wait till you feel something, sometimes it's much larger and more advanced. It's really important for people to get their screening mammograms," said Dr. Jacqueline Oxenberg, a breast oncologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.

Dr. Oxenberg says it's important to know your personal risk for breast cancer and get screened based on that risk. She recommends women examine themselves at least once a month, not around their menstrual cycle.

"The best way to pick up something outside the time of you getting a mammogram is to know your own breasts and to know your own changes. Keep in mind there is no data to support it, but there are a lot of patients that we see that have picked up changes on their own."

Dr. Oxenberg says there are ways to decrease your risk for breast cancer. She says people who are overweight are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, so diet and exercise are important.

"Smoking is a big aspect of this. People don't realize that even drinking, daily drinking is a big risk factor as well."

Dr. Oxenberg stresses that a breast cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, and Geisinger doctors are prepared to help every step of the way.

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